Mayor's Pay Comes Back to the Table
Put on hold a year and a half ago, salary increase debate brought up again.
One Tosa alderman is riled up that the mayor's pay has reappeared on the agenda of city government, but a leader of the committee hearing the issue says it's just a matter of timing.
When the question of raising the salary of the mayor of Wauwatosa last came up, in December 2009, the timing couldn't have been much worse.
Even though several mayors have served since that salary was last raised to $22,500 in 1984, a proposal to double the figure while the city and the nation were mired in the depths of recession was a non-starter for most folks.
The proposal was put on hold in January 2010 and no one has heard a peep from it since. But the question is back now, on the agenda of the Common Council's Employee Relations Committee with a hearing Tuesday night.
Ald. Bobby Pantuso, who does not serve on the committee, is having none of it.
"This was tabled last time because the economy was in such bad shape that the council thought they would not be able to sell it to their constituents," Pantuso said. "Now, 18 months later, unemployment is basically the same, house values continue to decrease and we as a city are facing a $2.6 million budget gap.
"When something that has been tabled comes up for discussion again it is usually because some new piece of information has come to light or the situation has changed. In this case, I think things have changed for the worse."
But Ald. Cheryl Berdan, the vice chairwoman of the Employee Relations Committee, said Tuesday that there were no ulterior motives involved.
"When we tabled it last year, we just said let's wait until the appropriate time," Berdan said. "We couldn't raise the mayor's pay during her term, so we said we would discuss it again in July when we could look to the term of the next mayor.
"We aren't taking any action, and I don't know that we will. This seems to come up year after year. The committee is just being asked what information is needed in order for it to be discussed in July."
Pantuso also questioned the timing of the return of the pay issue just as the city begins ramping up toward a mayoral election.
Mayor Jill Didier hasn't formally announced the launch of a campaign for another term, but the Friends of Didier group has scheduled a fundraiser June 23 at the Rosebud Cinema, 6823 W. North Ave., with advertising paid for by Citizens for Didier.
Low pay for the position of mayor is widely thought to be because it is a part-time job, with the real brunt of the work going to the full-time city administrator. In fact, the mayor's hours are nowhere defined, but the role as executive of the administration is.
Didier demonstrated recently how much power the mayor can wield when she made rare use of her right to veto legislation, killing the ratification of city workers' contracts the day after the Common Council approved them.
Nor was Didier acting as a figurehead when she did it; City Administrator Jim Archambo had been instrumental in negotiating the contracts and made repeated statements in support of them down to the moment they were passed.