The Bellevue City Council approved a pay raise for the mayor and council members Aug. 6 and included a last minute amendment to give annual pay raises of 2%.
The 4-2 vote on both the amendment and the ordinance increases the mayor’s salary from $15,000 a year to $21,000 and council member salaries from $11,000 to $17,000 effective Dec. 1, 2020.
Both positions will receive 2% annual raises beginning Dec. 1, 2021. Councilman Pat Shannon proposed the amendment.
Mayor Rusty Hike said the work the council puts in was deserving of a pay bump.
“It was coming. I think our council (members) deserve a little bit more,” he said.
He went on to say, “I think there’s a lot of people in public service who are underpaid.”
Council members Paul Cook and Thomas Burns voted against the one-time raise and the annual increase.
Burns said he went into the council knowing what he was going to be paid and was comfortable with the pay but didn’t feel comfortable giving himself a raise. He also expressed concerns that the annual raise wasn’t presented to the public in the lead up to the vote.
“The fact that people couldn’t even really speak on it, that was the justification for voting no,” he said.
Cook said he felt it was inappropriate to add the 2% amendment indefinitely. He also felt the pay raise wasn’t warranted and the city should use the same cities to compare council and mayoral pay it uses to determine pay for city employees.
Hike and Shannon said the annual raise was a tool to avoid a political spectacle in the future. Neither expressed any concerns that the annual increase wasn’t discussed in the lead up to the vote and said future councils could change the ordinance.
“I don’t think 2% is a big deal,” Shannon said. “We’re talking about $300. I don’t think anybody is going to care if the council gets a $300 a year raise. If I’m wrong they’ll tell me next time I’m up for election.”
Bellevue’s mayoral salary has been $15,000 since 1997 and council members’ has been $11,000 since 2010.
La Vista’s mayor is paid $16,000 per year and council members are paid $8,000 while Papillion’s mayor is paid $25,370 and council members are paid $12,685.
In other action:
• Introduced ordinances to annex seven Sanitary and Improvement Districts into city limits — Tregaron, Fox Ridge Estates, 370 Pointe, Pilgrims Landing, Oakhurst/Oakridge East, Heartland Hills and Williamsburg. All of the subdivisions are in southwest Bellevue and would bring an estimated 4,300 people into the city limits and add $329 million in property value to the tax roll, resulting in an additional $2 million in revenue for the city. The city also incurs the SIDs liabilities, which stands at about $13 million. All but Pilgrims Landing will see a drop in property tax levy.
Additionally, the annexations will add 30 acres of park, trails and open space and another 35 road miles for the city to maintain, the latter resulting in nearly $300,000 annually in state allocation funding.
A public hearing on the annexations will be held at the Aug. 20 City Council meeting.
• Ralph Gladbach was reappointed to the Building Board of Review for a five-year term; Joshua Sullivan was reappointed to the Bellevue Housing Authority for a five-year term; Tom Ackley and Leland Jacobson were reappointed to the Bellevue Planning Commission for three-year terms, and Scott Hankins was appointed to the Planning Commission for a three-year term; Mary Hansen was reappointed to the Civil Service Commission for a five-year term; Rob Klug, Matt Barros, Stacen Gross and Scot Burmeister were appointed to the LB 840 Citizen Advisory Board.
• Approved a request to purchase playground equipment for Washington and Swanson parks for an amount not to exceed $103,000.
• Approved a request to purchase a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer to be used by the city administrator at a cost not to exceed $27,000.
• Hike voted in favor to break a 3-3 tie on a rezoning to allow Paul Pignotti to build a duplex a 7801 South 30th St. Cook, Burns and Don Preister voted no.