EASTLAKE – Council voted to reduce the mayor’s salary effective in 2014 at the June 12 meeting. The mayor vetoed the ordinance June 19, but council overrode the veto at the June 26 meeting.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Ted Andrzejewski read a statement to council about his being the only salary being reduced and some residents spoke in his support as well.
“If this were to go into effect in the year 2014, that is the same year that all of the union contracts are being negotiated,” Andrzejewski said. “The same request, and I mention it is a request because these are negotiations, can be made of the unions.”
He noted Willoughby Mayor Dave Anderson makes $100,000 per year and Painesville City Manager Rita McMahon receives $99,900. At just $82,400, Andrzejewski’s salary is nearly 18 percent less.
“With council’s proposed salary cut, and division into two positions (mayor and safety director separate), the Eastlake mayor would be 28 percent lower …” Andrzejewski said. “The mayor of Eastlake, because of our budget cuts, also serves as economic development director, human resource director, assistant service director when (director) is gone on vacation or off, and wherever else is needed in the city hall.”
He noted Willoughby and Painesville both have separate individuals in those positions. If each was paid $50,000 annually, that would mean he, the mayor, was giving the city of Eastlake $230,000 worth of service for just $82,400.
“I can say, without reservation, that as economic development director, if it were not for my efforts, we would not have a Valu King grocery store in the city,” Andrzejewski said. “I know I personally called every grocery store (chain) to get one here. The new Walgreens Drug Store on the corner would not be here, if not for my efforts … A new KeyBank, Charter One Bank, Biagio’s Plaza on Vine Street and in particular the new Walmart which was a direct result of my calls … when I found out that the Kmart was closing.
“These businesses being in our city bring in more than enough tax dollars to justify the mayor’s salary without including the other positions that the mayor covers.”
He said the mayor’s salary was set at $82,400 in 2004.
Andrzejewski said, since only his position was singled out for a pay reduction, he did not believe it was for economic reasons.
The mayor said, on a list of the highest paid city employees, his salary ranks 19th. The 18 before him and 30 after him, with the exception of the service director, are all members of safety forces.
“We need good, capable individuals in city government,” Andrzejewski said. “By lowering the mayor’s salary, council is reducing the pool of possible candidates for mayor both now and in the future …
“In conclusion, I will state for the record, that if city council would like to do an across-the-board decrease in salary for all the Ordinance 155 employees, effective in 2014, I would be more than willing to do my part and take a salary reduction. As it stands now, council is selecting one, and only one, position for a reduction, and that is what I feel is wrong about this ordinance change.”
During the public portion, an Admiral Drive business owner and city resident said Eastlake has become a city of which residents can now be proud of. He understood about having to make economic cuts and had done so in his business but he did not just cut one person’s salary; he discussed the issues with his employees and everyone, himself included, took a pay cut. He said if one person is asked to take a pay cut, everyone should be willing to do so and if they were not willing to join in that effort, they should be ashamed of themselves.
“I think this action is similar to a vendetta,” said Chuck Price of Sunset Cove Circle after commending the mayor and his “team” of officials on their performance. “If pay is to be reduced, why hasn’t council in good faith reduced all salaries equally, across the board?”
He actually did not think anyone should get a salary cut since the city was living within its budget. He reminded council of the oaths of office they took and said council was failing the residents, not the mayor.
Another resident asked council why the mayor was singled out.
“By (city) charter, we can only change the mayor’s salary before the next election,” Council President Dennis Morley said. “The next election is next year in November, so we have to look at the salary.
“If we would have waited until January when people that wanted to run for mayor pulled out petitions, we’d have been accused then, as we are now, that it’s a vendetta against one person.
“We have no vendetta against this mayor.”
He said they could not ask the mayor to take a pay cut now and they could show in public records the mayor had said he would be willing to take a pay cut and not ask it of other departments.
“If the mayor’s office would like to, before the 2013 and 2014 budget, hand in what he believes that he could live with the cuts, this council will look at everything,” Morley said. “We made $2 million in cuts this last year from all departments except for one. The only department that was not cut was the mayor’s office …”
The resident said he still felt the mayor was already underpaid and it was not the right thing to do.
In other business:
* Jeff Licht was sworn in as ward 4 councilman to replace Dan Matheke, who resigned as of May 31.
* It was noted no city funds were being spent on the fireworks; they were being provided by the Lake County Captains.
Council passed the following after suspending the readings:
* An ordinance authorizing the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit for DJ’s Clubhouse Grille, LLC, 35400 Vine St. #10 and declaring an emergency.
* A resolution authorizing and directing the mayor to enter into an amendment to the lease agreement between the City of Eastlake and Cascia, LLC and declaring an emergency.
The next regular meeting of council will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 10.