At Tuesday night’s meeting Cheney’s City Council approved an ordinance raising the salary of the mayor and council members by a unanimous 4-0 vote.
Or perhaps, that tally should really read 4-0-3 as, in an unusual move, three members of the council chose to abstain from voting. Councilwomen Teresa Overhauser along with councilmen John Taves and Fred Pollard all declined to cast a vote for an ordinance raising the pay of elected officials for the first time since 1994.
Not only were the voting results unusual, but also the presentation of the ordinance and the discussion itself proved a little odd. In bringing the ordinance forward, Cheney finance director Cindy Niemeier explained that because elected officials had not received any increase in almost 20 years, it put them well below the average of elected officials in other area jurisdictions.
“I would like to see us more up into the average,” Niemeier said, adding that council members do a lot of work for what amounts to little pay. The ordinance increases council members’ pay from $310 to $450 a month and the mayor’s salary from $875 to $1,500 a month.
Overhauser moved to have all three readings of the ordinance during the meeting, moving it towards final passage. But before it could be officially passed, city attorney Stanley Schwartz pointed out language he felt should not be in the ordinance, namely a phrase in the mayor’s salary clause granting “plus such other benefits as are established by City Policy.”
Cheney mayors receive no benefits other than salary, and the phrase was subsequently struck through amendment before the ordinance’s final passage.
Also at the meeting council unanimously approved a resolution adopting the city’s 2014-2019 $5.97 million transportation improvement plan. Public Works director Todd Ableman told the council that of that total, $3.97 million was not funded but was eligible for grants.
The council also approved a resolution entering into a contract with TW Telecom to provide bandwidth and Internet phone services. Light Department director Joe Noland said the contract will enable the city to upgrade bandwidth from 20 megahertz to 100 megahertz, saving the department $12,000 per year and while also providing another reason for businesses to relocate to Cheney.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.