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Council explores pay raise prospects

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said Wednesday he doesn't want a raise if he wins re-election to a second four-year term, but the aldermen appear to be interested in making more money.

Under the City Charter, salaries for elected officials can be changed only during July of a city election year, which means every odd-numbered year.

Any changes for the next term, therefore, have to be this month.

Tucker said he is happy with his current pay of $43,800.

After a closed-door session Wednesday with the Common Council that touched on salaries among other personnel matters, Tucker said, "I told them I don't want a raise. I told them I'm OK where I'm at."

But the six aldermen directed some research into legislative salaries in other nearby cities to see if they can build a case for a raise.

"We haven't had a raise in seven years," Council President John Lombardi III said, "so I think we're due. But we asked [Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano] to look at comparables around here."

Aldermen are paid $6,500 each, except for Lombardi, R-5th Ward, who pulls down $7,000 as Council president.

Normally, the salary topic is a political hot potato in election years.

But this time around, unless some last-minute candidates surface, only one incumbent alderman will face an opponent this fall.

The pay raise requirement also affects City Treasurer Michael E. White, who is seeking election to a full four-year term.

He now earns $56,320 a year.

In other matters, aldermen criticized Tucker's decision last week to veto a ban on backyard fire pits along with wood-burning boilers.

But they will not attempt to override the veto.

Tucker said he approves the ban on large boilers that can be used to heat a home, but opposes shutting down small fire pits or fireplaces. "People like those things," he said. "You can't put laws on everything."

"The intention was right. We should probably fine-tune it," said Alderman Joseph C. Kibler, R-at Large.

Approval of a giant sponsorship banner, to be hung on the Historic Palace Theater's wall facing Elm Street, will have to wait until next month.

Tucker will miss next Wednesday's Council meeting, meaning that Lombardi will be acting mayor and won't be allowed to vote.

That leaves only three aldermen in favor of the plan, and passage of any measure requires four votes, even when the mayor is away, Ottaviano ruled.

A straw vote showed Kibler opposing the 18- by 37-foot banner, which he considers too big.

Alderman Thomas F. Grzebinski II, R-1st Ward, said he opposes waiving the sign ordinance's normal $100 fee for the not-for-profit theater.


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