Councilman Bill Bestpitch
UPDATE: 6/18: Councilman Sherman Lea backtracks today saying he sees the pay raise issue overshadowing the good things this council has accomplished.
He will fall into line with an 8% pay raise “that equals what really is 2% which is what city employees are getting.” he said.
UPDATE 6/17: 7:45 p.m. Councilman Sherman Lea said Bill Bestpitch’s sudden reversal after his long explanation on why they should get the raise was baffling.
Lea: “I guess the pressure got to him and Anita [Price]. People can change their minds I respect that right. However on a matter of this magnitude I would expect a member to tell a colleague if they change their minds. It is a matter of respect and even more trust.
Earlier: Kicking the can down the road and placating the pleadings of Council members Ray Ferris and Dave Trinkle, Bill Bestpitch made a motion to table the vote on the second reading for the 28.5% pay raise for city council members and the 15% raise for the mayor. Council will discuss the raises at a work session on July 1. The motion was agreed to by all but Councilman Sherman Lea and Mayor David Bowers.
Three speakers addressed city council before council’s discussion with one saying he was offended by the substantial increase.
Bestpitch ran through the numbers that in summary compared raises for city employees versus pay increases for city council over the past 18 years. Bestpitch read the dates of raises: 1997 a 7.7% raise, in 2003 a 3.5% raise, in 2004 a 2.2% raise and in 2008 a 5% raise. Three of those years after 2008 they took a 5% cut that was reinstated in 2012.
Using compounding he said that city employees have received 15 raises for a total of 66% over the 18 years. For 2 of the 3 years that city employees did not receive raises and instead they were given a $1000 bonus that city council did not receive.
“It’s true city employees are not getting a 28% increase this year,” said Bestpitch. “They got their 28% a long time ago.”
In 1996 the General Assembly authorized raising the cap for local officials but Roanoke City Council decided instead to give themselves a 7.7% increase. The intention, said Bestpitch was to slowly raise council’s pay to the GA maximum over time. “Subsequent councils chose not to follow that example,” he said.
Councilman Dave Trinkle
Councilman Dave Trinkle said, “there is one big difference – we are elected leaders and are not hired city employees … it’s a voluntary position.” He was adamantly opposed to the 28% raises and thought the process of the proposed raise was flawed. “We are dishonoring previous city councils and the decisions they have made.” It should be much more incremental he said.
The GA limits don’t mean that is where we should be said Trinkle. “It doesn’t mean we should be at the limit.”
Trinkle again offered his 10% pay raise option. This would cover the contributions for benefits coming out of their paychecks similar to what city employees are facing and are being compensated for. “Hopefully future councils will tie future pay increases to what we do with our city employees,” he said. “One big leap and one big jump doesn’t honor the significant decisions that previous council members have made … you just don’t know where the economy is going to lead us years down the road.”
Councilman Ray Ferris
Councilman Ray Ferris had director of finance, Ann Shawver explain the pension and health retirement contributions going into effect in July of 2013 and 2014 for a total net reduction in pay of 6% for city employees and city council. The effect on paychecks with deductions for 6% raises comes to 8% when including tax implications and insurance premium increases.
Ferris proposed to council members intending to vote for the 28% increase that he would go along with Trinkle’s proposal. Ferris called for more discussion at a work session. “We need more than just today to do that … I will hold out the olive branch and say that I will consider something in the 8-10% range to keep us even if there is an attitude toward changing your positions on the 28.5%.”
“There are a lot of things that I flat out disagree with,” said Bestpitch. He agreed that this was not the place for more “robust discussion” and made the motion to table the ordinance until after the July 1 work session.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Finance, Politics, Roanoke City Politics