City commission getting a raise

But BLP board members’ pay will stay the same

TOURVILLE

MARQUETTE — Marquette City Commissioners are getting a 3 percent raise — their first in four years — as the result of a unanimous vote recently by the Local Officers Compensation Commission.

The commission, which was established in 1977 to determine the salaries of elected city officials, met Aug. 17 and unanimously decided to increase city commissioner salaries by $200 to $7,700 per year, a 2.7 percent increase; and the mayor’s salary by $300 to $10,500 a year, a 2.9 percent increase.

The LOCC also unanimously voted to maintain the salaries of the Marquette Board of Light and Power’s Board of Directors at $4,000 per year and the BLP board chairman at $4,500 per year.

The Marquette City Commission at its regular meeting last week heard a presentation by Susan Tollefson, a new member of the LOCC, about the group’s decision.

In a follow-up interview, Tollefson said: “It’s been a while, so that was one of the reasons we felt (city commissioners) deserved to have an increase.”

City staff liaison to the LOCC Wendy Larson said according to minutes from previous LOCC meetings, which occur every two years, commissioners’ last raise was in 2013 from $5,100 to $7,500 per year.

Tollefson said the decision to keep BLP salaries the same was based on statistics of comparable BLP boards and the fact they had made no requests.

BLP Chairman Tom Tourville said speaking for himself and probably the whole BLP board: “We’re very comfortable where we are.”

“Realistically, serving in local government, it’s not about the money anyway,” Tourville said. “It’s really a service that you’re giving the community and the money is not really part of the decision why you want to serve on these boards.”

Tourville, a former mayor, added the city commission puts in an “incredible amount of time.”

Mayor Dave Campana said it’s hard to quantify since it’s different every week, but he estimated he spends about 25-30 hours at things like ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings; meetings and work sessions; reading and research; communicating with the public, city staff and other commissioners; signing papers and contracts; preparing speeches, and representing the city at various functions.

The raise is “truthfully a minimal amount I thought,” Campana said. “Keep in mind, the last couple two, three years have been extremely hard on the commission. We’ve had a lot going on, and a lot more problems to deal with and a lot more events to deal with.”

Campana said the raise was a surprise.

“The commissioners and I’m sure the BLP commissioners, they really don’t care about the money. I mean, I really don’t care what I get paid. I really don’t care if I get anything. You’re obviously not doing it for the money,” Campana said.

The salary is a good thing, he added, for commissioners with young kids.

According to the draft minutes of the August LOCC meeting, four of the six appointed members of the seven-member commission were present. Two, including Anthony Ghiringhelli, who is running for the city commission, were absent and excused. The commission has one vacancy. Members apply through the city clerk’s office and are appointed by the city commission.

City commissioners at the Oct. 10 meeting also approved reimbursements for travel expenses for Campana and Commissioners Sara Cambensy and Peter Frazier for their attendance of the Michigan Municipal League Sept. 12-15 in Holland, Mich.

Campana was reimbursed $180, Frazier $90 and Cambensy $80.

The commission also unanimously approved the addition of long-term disability coverage for all full-time middle managers and department heads effective the beginning of this month, since they did not previously have income protection in case they became disabled, according to city documents.

Long-term disability coverage provides 60 percent of an employee’s basic monthly earnings up to a maximum of $4,000 per month. The city’s carrier Lincoln Financial Group offered a group rate of $.58 per $100 of annual earnings, the same rate for covered union employees. The quote to cover all full-time management employees is about $21,600 for the year.

The commission also established a Municipal Employees Retirement System health care savings plan for full-time employees of the Peter White Public Library.

The commission also approved a standard use agreement with the Marquette Junior Hockey Corporation for 1,100 hours at Lakeview Arena at a total cost of $214,500 for the 2018 fiscal year. The commission also approved a lease agreement with the Marquette Junior Hockey Corporation for concession space for six months, totaling $4,320.

Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is mwardell@miningjournal.net.