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February 27, 2013

No wage increases for Roseville council

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

ROSEVILLE — The Roseville City Council unanimously agreed to the Elected Officials Compensation Commission’s recommendation for elected officials in Roseville to not receive wage increases for the next two fiscal years at the Feb. 9 regular meeting.

“At their most recent meeting, the commission voted that the city clerk, city treasurer, deputy clerk, deputy treasurer, mayor and council would not receive an increase in compensation for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years,” City Manager Scott Adkins said.

The commission’s recommendation came as no surprise to the council because they not only unanimously agreed to it, but they also recommended it.

“Council expressed to the clerk that they were not interested in a raise,” Roseville Mayor John Chirkun said.

And it’s not the first time they’ve made such a recommendation. They’ve been making it since 2007, when the local economy started to fall.

“I think it’s important to bring out that they said, for the next two years, we are going to get a zero percent increase, but in 2015 that means the salaries of the clerk, treasurer, council and mayor will be at 2006 levels,” said Councilman Sam Aiuto. “There hasn’t been an increase to our salaries since 2006.”

“Some people have said we should take a pay cut, but in 2015, it will be 10 years running that there hasn’t been a wage increase, and I think it is important for the public to know that.”

While the council, Clerk’s Office and Treasurer’s Office haven’t taken a pay cut since 2006, the Treasurer’s and Clerk’s offices did agree to contract concessions in health care.

“When it comes to benefits, both the Clerk’s Office and the Treasurer’s Office agreed to concessions and cuts in benefits and health care,” said City Clerk Rich Steenland.

“I haven’t taken a raise in the past six years,” said Treasurer Catherine Haugh. “In these economic times, I just don’t think it’s right.”

Haugh also mentioned that the elected officials weren’t the only ones to agree to health care concessions.

“We took cuts in health care, but so did all the city employees —  every one of us did — because that’s what we had to do,” she said. “You can’t keep taking from the same well when it’s running dry.”

The mayor and council do not receive health care or benefits. Information on the salaries of the city clerk and treasurer and deputy city clerk and treasurer were not available at press time, but Chirkun provided information on the council’s pay.

As mayor, Chirkun earns $10,200 annually. Council members earn approximately $8,200 annually. Council and mayor are not considered full-time positions, but for some officials, like Chirkun, it is a full-time job.

“I work about 40 hours a week,” Chirkun said. “It’s not just the council meetings, it’s the ZBA meetings, (South Macomb Disposal Authority) meetings, committee meetings, community activities and a whole lot more; but frankly I have a lot of fun doing all those things, though, so I don’t mind.”

But those are just the things elected officials do in the public eye. There is a whole lot more to the job. And much of it is done without anticipation of glory or thanks.

For example, before a Monday night Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, Chirkun spent time reviewing the agenda. One item required research. A resident who owns two larger-breed dogs was requesting to build a privacy fence. The man’s neighbor had spoken out against it and requested the ZBA deny his request. She had a spectacular garden and she was afraid that a privacy fence would prevent sunlight from nourishing her plants.

Chirkun drove over to the neighborhood where the dispute was taking place and, from the sidewalk, looked into the woman’s backyard in an attempt to figure out if the fence would indeed block the sunlight and if there was another amicable solution. He then went and spoke to the neighbors on each side of them and behind them to ascertain their views on the privacy fence.

“I went to every house over there to see what their views were, so when I voted, I had background knowledge,” he said.

In another incident, he received a phone call from a resident tired of looking at the trash piling up in a neighbor’s backyard. Chirkun took to the streets for this one, too.

“I went up and down the whole street asking people about it. I took pictures of the backyard and I looked up the code for certain issues, then I called code enforcement on the issue, because it was against code,” he said.

In a third incident he recently investigated, Chirkun had overheard a group of people saying that certain entrances to the city weren’t being kept up, so he went and investigated. He drove to each city entrance and took notes and photographs of its appearance, occasionally calling out code enforcement.

“I want the entrances of our city to reflect how great our city is,” Chirkun said.

And he’s not the only council member taking to the streets. On many occasions, other members of council have reported doing the same, whether it’s to investigate a resident complaint or gain public perception on an important upcoming issue.

“I don’t do this for the money,” Chirkun said. “I do it because I care and because I want to do it. I love reading to the kids and taking part in the (Veterans of Foreign Wars) raffles. The job doesn’t pay a lot, but it is fun.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.