FD council members unanimously reject raise

Fort Dodge City Council members will not be getting a 27 percent raise next year.

Council members on Monday rejected a proposal to boost their salary from the current $4,800 to $6,100 on Jan. 1, 2014.

”I don’t do this job for the money,” Councilman Andy Fritz said. ”I knew what the salary was when I ran for this office and that is not why I ran for it.”

Fritz, and councilmen Kim Alstott, Dean Hill, Robert ”Barney” Patterson, Mark Taylor and Don Wilson voted against the proposed increase. Councilman Dave Flattery was absent.

Hill initially said he would abstain from the vote because he is the only current council member whose term does not expire this year and thus he is the only one who is assured of being on the governing body next year. He changed his mind after Fritz said abstaining was ”a coward’s way out.”

Wilson participated in the meeting by telephone from Florida. During the discussion of the proposed raise, he seemed to suggest that he will not seek re-election.

”This is not going to benefit me,” he said. ”My days are numbered.”

The increase was recommended on Feb. 11 by the city’s Salary Advisory Review Board. One of that board’s members, Jim Koll, explained how the recommendation was reached Monday.

He said the recommendation was not a reflection of any any council member’s performance or position on issues.

”I took the position that we need to consider the amount of time, effort and talent council members put in to do their job properly,” he said. ”It’s my opinion it takes a substantial amount of time.”

Koll said the current council salary has remained unchanged since 2002.

The proposed raise, he said, would restore the ”purchasing power” that the council salary had in 2002.

Several councilmen said they didn’t seek the office for the salary.

”We basically get $100 a week,” Patterson said. ”I think that’s plenty of money.”

Patterson added that rejecting the proposed raise would help the city save money.

Alstott said he ran for council to serve the community, not to get the salary.

Wilson called for a wage freeze for heads of city government departments and other top ranking staffers. He claimed that City Manager David Fierke and Jim Vollmer, the city’s human resources director, ”almost negotiate their own wages.”

Mayor Matt Bemrich said Fierke had had his salary frozen in the past. He added that city employees have been getting their raises midway through the fiscal year in a move that helps to save money.

Bemrich added that a city employee’s pay constitutes a ”livable wage” from which they must provide food, clothing and shelter for their families. He said council members are not expected to provide those necessities from their city salaries. Elected officials, he said, have other jobs or pensions to provide those needs.

The Salary Advisory Review Board did not recommend any increase in the mayor’s $15,000 salary.