Council revisits salary issue, votes it down
The Wadena City Council voted 3-2 against raising the mayor and council members' salaries during the Oct. 9 regular meeting.
Mayor Wayne Wolden and Council Members Kay Browne and Don Niles voted against the raise, while Council Members Toby Pierce and Jeanette Baymler voted for it.
The issue was originally brought up in the September regular meeting, since the mayor and council members' salaries had remained the same since 2008.
Currently, the mayor receives $5,620 and council members receive $4,880 per year. The new ordinance would have raised earnings to $6,182 for Wolden and $5,368 for council members, to be effective Jan. 1.
As requested at the previous meeting, City Administrator Brad Swenson put together a list of mayor and council wages in similar-sized Minnesota towns.
Wadena's rate was higher than most of the other 10 responding towns in 2012, when considering wage data from the League of Minnesota Cities survey. Also, while Wadena had a flat salary regardless of the number of meetings council members attended in a given month, other cities paid per meeting.
Swenson said the data put together had a conservative estimate of 24 meetings per year. He added that towns with larger populations generally have higher wages.
Council Member Jeanette Baymler said switching to a per-meeting pay system could be a bookkeeping nightmare to keep track of.
Wolden said while the mayor and council put in a lot of hours, a raise would be a symbolically bad statement, since tax levies are being increased.
Pierce said it was reasonable to have somewhat higher salaries because Wadena has more tasks to manage than other similar cities, including municipal utilities, the golf course and the liquor store.
Browne, who is neither seeking re-election nor running for another office, said she was not comfortable voting to begin with.
The wages would have affected the post-election city council, with Pierce and Baymler returning to finish four-year terms, Wolden up for re-election and two new council members for offices vacated by Browne and Niles.