First of all, thank you to the many informed citizens who attended the May 20 Aberdeen Council Meeting to express your displeasure regarding ordinance 13-O-05 [regarding pay raises for the Aberdeen mayor and city councilmembers]. This ordinance (if it had been approved that evening) would have increased the annual salaries of Aberdeen councilmembers from $7,500 to $12,000 (a 60 percent increase!), and increased the mayor's annual salary from $10,000 to $24,000 (a 140 percent increase!).
Granted, the ordinance would not become effective until after the next council / mayoral election in 2015 (terms are now four years), but just look at what happened during the most recent election: All four incumbent councilmembers ran unopposed, and Mayor Michael Bennett was unsuccessfully challenged by Patrick McGrady. I think you get the point!
Also, the salary increase ordinance was originally scheduled to be voted on that evening, May 20, but because of your participation, it was "deferred" to a council work session scheduled for this coming Monday (June 10) at City Hall Council starting at 4 pm. At this upcoming work session the "deferred" ordinance will be discussed by the elected officials and the city manager. I encourage all interested parties to attend, listen and take notes.
The public does not have an opportunity to participate during this work session, but you may be able to grab an ear or two of willing councilmembers and / or Mayor Bennett after the meeting has adjourned.
Either way, I encourage you to keep and eye on what's going on at City Hall and be vigilant. Personally, I lobbied against a proposed substantial salary increase half way through Mayor Bennett's first two-year term (2007-2009), and with concurrence of the entire council at that time (Ruth Elliott, Ron Kupfermann, Ruth Ann Young and Michael Hiob), the proposal never saw the light of day.
That being said, since the current proposal has seen the light of day as an official ordinance, it stands to reason that Mayor Bennett has enough votes in favor to pass it this time around. This proposed salary increase is wrong for so many reasons, I wouldn't be able to itemize them in this letter. So thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at Aberdeen City Hall on Monday, June 10, at 4 p.m.
Michael G. Hiob
The writer is a former Aberdeen City Councilman who served three terms from 2003 – 2009.