Backed Into Corner by State Law, Council Raises Mayor's Pay to $30,000

Learning at the 11th hour that it was now or never, aldermen increased mayoral salary by 33 percent.

The next mayor of Wauwtosa will receive $30,000 a year in salary, up 33 percent from the $22,500 mayors have made annually since 1984, the Wauwatosa Common Council decided Tuesday night.

The vote was 12-4, which might sound overwhelming in its support. But in fact, it was as close as it possibly could have been, thanks to a bombshell dropped by City Attorney Alan Kesner.

Kesner had been out of town all of last week and Monday, returning to find that a and that there was some sentiment to hold over a vote on the matter until after Jan. 3, the closing date for nominations to be filed for the April election.

Not so fast, Kesner said. There had been plenty of discussion of the state statute that prohibits raising an elected official's salary while in office. But there is another statute, he said, that prohibits raising an elective position's salary after the nomination filing deadline.

"The state statute says that the salary has to be established before the end of the filing period," he said.

What's more, he told the council, raising the mayor's pay would require a three-quarters majority vote.

Somehow, no one knew this, even though the matter of the mayor's pay had been debated for two years and had been .

Alderman and now had pushed for the pay raise over the summer and brought it back to life even after its defeat in July. In light of entering the race just a day before Tuesday's meeting, he said, "I am in the uneviable position of moving this while I am running for mayor. I know I'll have egg on my face."

There was egg enough to go around, however, after Kesner spelled out the statutes. It was just about now or never for the council to finally make up its collective mind on whether to raise the mayor's pay. If the council didn't act, the mayor's salary couldn't be raised until 2016 at the earliest.

After an hour's debate in which almost every council member had a say, often at some length, the vote came to exactly the three-quarters needed to pass.

Eddie December 07, 2011 at 03:52 PM
I guess we all know why Donegan was pushing the pay raise now.
greensheet December 07, 2011 at 04:56 PM
Easily, 1 dollar per resident per year, minimum. 50K at least, maybe 60K. I would be willing to pay 75K for the right person, with the right vision, (and connections!).
jeanne December 07, 2011 at 07:10 PM
While I am not against a higher salary for a mayor, the city does not need both a highly compensated mayor and city administrator - it is either one or the other. Let's not forget the "bennies" that go along with either/both positions. As an elected suburban mayor, the mayor also holds a for pay position on the Milwaukee Sewage Commission. Jeanne
Rudy December 08, 2011 at 05:56 PM
On the books the pay was $22,000 for a part time job, but included with the position is a job with the MMSD for an additional $10,000 plus free healthcare for life (Voted on by former Mayor Walsh). This moved the value of the Mayors job up to $50,000. With the raise it is now $58,000 for a part time job. If you subtract the lifetime free healthcare this is what a firefighter who works 72hrs a week makes. Who needs to make adjustments?
Rudy December 08, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Maybe a referendum would be a better way to approve a raise. Same for Congress. I agree with you.


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