MOUNT PLEASANT — The next people elected to the Mount Pleasant Village Board will see higher salaries than the current trustees and president, after the Village Board on Monday approved pay raises.
The approved raises amount to 3.9% for trustees (from $6,500 per year to $6,574) and 6.1% (from $12,500 per year to $13,263) for the village president.
The change would not take effect until after each position comes up for election, meaning current board members will only receive the raise if they get re-elected.
No one is serving for the money, several trustees said during discussion on the proposal.
Raises could have been higher
The new salaries resulted from a wage study the village commissioned from McGrath Consulting Group, which also conducted a study that led to wage increases for other village employees. The study found that the board’s new salaries would be near the midpoint for salaries of other elected officials in the area.
Trustees Anna Marie Clausen and Ram Bhatia said they wanted to raise the salaries nearer to the 90th percentile of local elected officials, not near the middle of the pay scale. They motioned to have the wages set at $7,300 for trustees and $13,500 for the president.
Clausen contends that trustees receiving higher-than-average pay would be deserved because of “the size of the village and the projects we’re working on.”
Considering the hours put in by the board members, Bhatia and John Hewitt both said that the current wage trustees are paid works out to less than $1/hour, sometimes as little as 33 cents an hour.
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DeGroot said that some constituents are surprised when they find out how much he and the trustees are paid.
“I can’t tell you how many times a resident has come up to me in the past few years and said, ‘You’re making $12,000 as president of the Village of Mount Pleasant? You’re crazy. You should be making $100,000 easy,’ ” DeGroot said. “That’s reality. I’ve heard that time and time and time again. And I’m complimented by that, I appreciate that folks see value in what this board is doing and what I’m doing as president. But I’ve told them, ‘Fat chance that that is ever going to get there.’ ”
But other constituents have accused the board of being overpaid, a criticism that Trustee Gary Feest believes to be unfounded, considering what was learned from the McGrath study.
Although DeGroot supported the motion brought forward by Clausen and Bhatia, the higher wages were voted down 4-3, with trustees Hewitt, Bud Eastman, Sonny Havn and Feest voting in opposition to the additional bump.
Eastman said he is “perfectly happy” with the wages already in place, but voted for the lower raises anyway, which were approved by a 5-2 vote. Bhatia and Clausen were the only nay votes.
First pay change in a while
Feest said the raises that were approved would be the first raise the Village Board members have received since before he was first elected in 2010. DeGroot said he doesn’t think there’s been a raise for the village’s elected officials in at least 20 years.
“There’s a difference between a volunteer and a public servant … to say it’s not about the money, that’s a political response and I’m not a politician,” Feest said. “My whole goal here was, if you (the voters) think the amount that you’re paying us is too much, you have the ability to fire us every other April, and then you can make that money.”