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Posted: 03/26/14

WT leadership gets pay
boost of 39 percent

Three board members have not
received raises since in office

by KIMBERLY SCHERER
Observer Special Writer
      Three of Washington Township's full time board members were approved to receive raises for the first time they've been in office since 2008.
       Supervisor Dan O'Leary had brought up the request to the board during its March 5 meeting and asked the board to consider raising his salary from $63,300 to $77,175 annually and the clerk and treasurer's salary from $60,500 to $73,500. That amount would bring them more in line with the township's department heads, which would still make more than that amount per year.
       During that meeting, Trustee Art Grimes said he thought the raise amount was still a low-ball.
       If the board had received 3 percent raises every year since 2008, Trustee Lisa Rapp said they would be making in the $80,000 per year range at the end of the current union contract in 2018.
       A subcommittee was formed to research and review the request, Rapp, Grimes and Trustee Abby Jacobson came back to the board during its March 19 meeting with their recommendations.
       Rapp said the township cannot attract talented individuals into the township with the current salary rates of O'Leary, Clerk Kathy Bosheers and Treasurer Linda Verellen as they are now.
       She said they benchmarked Washington's raises with that of similar neighboring communities and recommended $88,000 for O'Leary and $84,040 for Verellen and Bosheers.
       The committee sought out communities with the same State Equalized Valuation and same population numbers. It also looked at department heads and employee salaries within those municipalities.
       Rapp said the committee also took into consideration the salaries of the department head salaries in Washington Township and believed it would be best if the supervisor was the top paid official in the community. She said the recommended salary amounts align their roles and responsibilities.
       Currently, Washington Township's director of public works earns about $78,000 a year, not including other benefits.
       "We want smart people up here doing good things and we want to compensate them," said Rapp.
       The subcommittee also believed that many smart decisions have been made since 2008 that have contributed to the overall financial health of the township.
       "We have eliminated all of our legacy costs," Grimes said. "We've got to weigh that."
       If the township hadn't done away with their legacy costs then the township would be upside down, Rapp said.
       "It's been five years . . . our leadership has worked very hard and saved the township thousands of dollars," Jacobson said. "In order to get these kinds of people, we need to compensate them fairly."
       Rapp made the motion to set the new salary rates effective April 1, bring their medical in line with the full time UAW staff and reduce their retirement from 15 percent to 10 percent, also to match what employees will have.
       The contract calls for employees to pay $1,000 toward their health insurance and now elected officials will also have to pay that much. Elected officials will also lose 5 percent of the money the township puts into their retirement accounts.
       The board voted 5-2 to approve the new salaries, Bosheers and O'Leary voted no.
       "We very much appreciate the respect and recognition. It's great that you're looking to the future," O'Leary said.
       Nobody spoke against the raises at Wednesday's meeting and no letters were received in opposition, said Bosheers.


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