Noting the "long hours and huge responsibilities" the mayor and aldermen undertake on behalf of the city, Annapolis residents expressed their support last night for legislation that would boost the salaries of their elected officials.
"It may appear to be self-serving, but you do serve the people, and that responsibility should be rewarded," resident Debbie Rosen McKerrow said at last night's city council meeting. "We're a small city facing big problems."
Sponsored by Mayor Dean L. Johnson on the heels of a Compensation Review Commission recommendation, the legislation would give future mayors and aldermen a raise, including Johnson if he won his bid for re-election.
If the measure is approved, the mayor's yearly salary would jump by $13,000, from $52,000 to $65,000. Council members would receive a $3,500 raise, from $8,500 to $12,000.
Aldermen also would get $1,500 annually to cover training expenses such "attendance at seminars, meetings, courses, and conferences that will enhance their ability to fulfill their aldermanic functions," the bill states.
In addition, the city would provide clerical support for the eight council members during committee meetings.
State law might conflict with the compensation commission's recommendation to tie a cost-of-living increase to similar adjustments to city employee's salaries, which is included in Johnson's legislation.
By voting to give city employees a pay raise, the council members would in essence be raising their salaries if they were re-elected.
If the mayoral and aldermanic cost-of-living adjustment is made automatic, the conflict will be resolved, city officials said.
"I do hope you vote yourselves a salary increase," resident Nancy Rey said. "You have to interact with county and state officials, both who make more money than you do."
The mayor's legislation follows the recommendation of the seven-member Compensation Review Commission which presented its findings in February.
The commission found that the mayor's workweek of 60 to 70 hours is similar to that of a chief executive officer of an organization, and recommended that he should be paid accordingly
The last raise for the mayor's position was 1992, and the last for aldermen in 1989.
Aldermen work 22 to 41 hours a week on city business and have out-of-pocket expenses ranging from $1,300 to $4,956 a year, which are not reimbursed.
The bill would take effect after the November general election.
The allowances would be paid to the mayor and aldermen for terms of office starting the first Monday in December.