By Tyler Fenwick
MARKLEVILLE — Markleville Town Council member Matthew Gustin made a motion to increase annual council member salaries from $1,700 to $4,500, to address an issue he said he’s been wanting to raise since last year.
“I’ve put a lot of thought into it,” Gustin said at the Monday, Sept. 11 meeting. “It’s not just something I pulled off the top of my head.”
Town council members have been paid $1,700 annually since 2009, according to town records.
Gustin said a salary boost would entice potential future council members who might feel $1,700 is not fair compensation for the work.
“Part of the problem is it’s hard to find people who want to do this,” said Gustin, who added that $4,500 still wouldn’t be just pay. “I’ve spent a lot of time not earning money at my other job because I’ve had to stop and go do this.”
Gustin received support on the council from Bob Fesmire, who said he wouldn’t vote against it. Fesmire is retired and said the raise wouldn’t do much for him personally.
“To the younger guys like you, it would be more helpful,” Fesmire said.
Council president Daniel Roseberry wasn’t explicitly supportive, but he did say he sees the justification.
Brad Orns, one of Markleville’s building inspectors, called the raise “justifiable,” but he also said perception in the community could be an issue.
“You just increased the sewer rates on people, and then they’re going to find out about this,” said Orns, referencing the council’s recent decision to raise sewage rates by 26 percent. “It’s probably not going to sit too well at this particular time.”
Doug Tupling, Markleville’s sewer technician, showed support for a raise.
“You guys are just aggressively underpaid,” he said.
Wayne Fox, president of the Markleville Park Board, said he’s worried about how an increased salary might affect the council in the future.
“If you raise it too much, you’ll get people who just do the job for the money,” said Fox. “I think there has to be a balance there.”
Gustin said he would welcome other community members to get involved because they’ll quickly learn how many responsibilities come with holding a seat on the council, and the current salary doesn’t reflect that.
“We’ve been living in a town that’s stood still for how many decades?” Gustin said. “That’s not the case anymore, and in order to keep that ball moving and keep it from stopping, you have to be able to entice other people to have an interest to go with it.”
The issue will be brought up again at the Oct. 2 budget hearing. Gustin said he anticipates a decision will be made at the Oct. 23 budget hearing.
Both of those meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. at Markleville Town Hall, 8 S. State St., Markleville.
In other business:
• New standard operating procedures for the Markleville police department, presented Police Chief Tim Basey, were approved unanimously by the council. Basey said the procedures mirror Madison County’s “because it seems to work.”
• Basey also presented an amended pursuit policy for police, which also was approved unanimously. “There will be no pursuit involving any traffic offenses,” the policy reads.
• The Markleville Park Board reported there will not be the usual annual rummage sale at the end of September. It also reported that Memorial Park will be rededicated on Veterans Day for its 20th anniversary.
• Todd Leever was approved as a sewage maintenance assistant to Tupling. Leever will make $5,000 annually as a part-time employee, while Tupling will continue to make $10,000.
• The town council will not meet on Sept. 25 or Oct. 9, dates that would otherwise follow the regular meeting days of second and fourth Mondays of the month.