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Only four people spoke out against the 28.5 percent pay raise for council members at the meeting.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Most of those who showed up to speak their mind about proposed pay increases for council members and the mayor Monday said they didn't like the idea - but there weren't many of them.
Only five people spoke, and one of them said he supported the idea of a pay increase.
The council started the process of giving itself a 28.5 percent pay raise for itself while boosting the mayor's pay by 15 percent with a 4-3 vote earlier this month.
But it decided to postpone a final vote until June because one of the four members supporting the move couldn't attend Monday's session, putting the proposal at risk of failure.
"I am appalled that you could even think about a 28 1⁄2 percent raise for yourselves," said city resident Victoria Thomas. "This is a part time job with benefits: health insurance, retirement. It is not designed to be replacement salary."
Robert Lynch, a resident of the Dorchester Court neighborhood, said the council's approval this year of a plan for two hotels on the site of the Huff Lane school showed it does not listen to residents.
"You claim to do the people's work, it seems all you do is big business' work," he said.
City resident William Drewery said he felt the council should not work for free, "but the increase you want is just too much."
He said he struggles to stretch a 3 percent increase in his disability benefits, and felt a 28.5 percent increase was unfair.
"It is too much; with what you give city employees and retirees, I think it is a joke," said Ralph Hayes.
But former Councilman Rupert Cutler said he felt the council deserved a pay increase.
"The expression 'you get what you pay for' often rings true," Cutler said. "Roanoke is moving forward on all fronts now, and I believe our city council should be compensated as well as any across the state, as one way of our saying to them: Job well done."
The pay increase proposal, made by Councilman Bill Bestpitch, would increase council members' pay from $15,560 a year to $20,000. It would increase the mayor's salary from $20,000 to $23,000.
The city's elected officials are paid less than those in Portsmouth, which is slightly smaller than Roanoke.
Roanoke County pays its supervisors more, while the board chairman is paid slightly less than the city's mayor, according to a survey conducted by the city's budget office.
In other business, the council:
-- approved selling the old YMCA building for $10 to a developer who is promising to invest about $7 million converting the 57-year old landmark into a mix of commercial space and apartments. Council members said they were skeptical about a conditional offer to buy the building for $50,000 made during Monday's session by a group of city landlords
-- voted to sell the nearly 7-acre site in the Coyner Springs Road area of Botetourt County that used to house its Crisis Intervention Center to Intercept Youth Services for $420,000.
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