Union commissioners, mayor agree on $100 monthly pay raise

Union City Mayor Larry Solomon explains the reasons he believes Union's elected officials should get a raise to their monthly pay. Because 2022 is an election year, an increase in pay would not affect the current administration. Photo by Kaitlin Gebby | LINK nky

The Union City Council is considering an increase in city commissioners’ and the mayors’ monthly pay. 

During the Union City Council caucus meeting Monday night, Mayor Larry Solomon brought before the commissioners a proposal to increase the city’s pay scale for elected officials. He said it was a pressing need to decide whether they would change the ordinance, given the deadline to do so is in two weeks. 

Solomon said he researched the pay scales of other Kentucky cities and realized the set amount elected officials make is arbitrary. 

“I tried to equate it to population, but there’s no rhyme or reason how cities do this thing,” Solomon said. “It’s not based upon anything.”

Right now, the ordinance grants each commissioner $350 a month and the mayor $400 a month, amounting to $4,200, and $4,800 a year, respectively. That scale has been in place for four years, and a new one would be in place for another four. Given this is an election year, any change in pay scale would impact the next administration, Solomon said. 

City commissioners Eric Dulaney, John Melford, and Jeremy Ramage agreed that the pay could be increased, but they wanted to establish a formula. 

Commissioner Brian Garner said he was against a raise. 

“I didn’t even know we got paid until after I was elected,” he said. “Honestly, it would be a hard sell to get me to support any raise. I don’t think we need it.” 

The other three commissioners and the mayor pitched the idea of basing the pay scale on less than 1% of the annual tax revenue. City administrator David Plummer estimated last year’s revenue was roughly $1.6 million. Four years prior, it was $1.1 million. 

More news:  Newport celebrates holiday season with weekend events

Solomon added that Union has grown “by 39%” in the last 10 years. He cited the US Census data, which shows a population of around 5,800 in Union in 2010 and 7,400 in 2020. As the population has grown, so have the city’s needs. Union also holds two meetings a month, a caucus and a business meeting. Elected officials are spending more time taking care of city business, and for that reason, Solomon and the other commissioners agreed a pay increase was fair. 

Commissioners said they would like more time to establish a formal formula for future pay scale decisions, but given they were short on time, they used their phones to calculate what a percent-based raise might look like. 

“I guess I don’t have an issue with it as long as we tie it to something that’s fundamentally sound,” Ramage said. 

Solomon said he didn’t want anyone thinking it was a money grab.

Ultimately, they decided on $100 more a month for both parties, making the commissioners’ pay $450 a month and the mayor’s pay $500 a month. The city attorney gave the first reading of the new ordinance. 

Residents should expect a second reading and final vote on the change at the next Union City business meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, May 2, at 6:30 p.m.