WATERLOO — City Councilman Jerome Amos Jr. is pushing for a major increase in the Waterloo mayor’s paycheck.
Amos is spearheading an effort which would boost the mayoral salary from $87,445 to $102,000 beginning next year.
The measure could be brought to a vote as early as next week.
“I firmly believe that we are underpaying the mayor position for the city of Waterloo,” he said. “Our mayor is paid less, and also the other cities have city administrators.
“For me, maybe we need to start looking at the mayor’s salary so that we can actually attract individuals to run for office, to try to get someone in here that can do the job,” he added.
Waterloo is relatively unique in Iowa as the only large city with a full-time mayor running the day-to-day operations of the city.
Council Bluffs has the highest-paid mayor in Iowa at $101,614 per year, but also employs a chief of staff paid more than $130,000 annually. Cedar Falls has a full-time mayor paid $93,113 a year but has a city administrator drawing a salary exceeding $182,000.
Amos noted Waterloo’s mayor is doing much of the work the city administrators and managers do in other communities.
“Our mayor is working hard,” he said. “Any mayor that follows after him will have to work just as hard, because it’s not going to get any easier.”
Councilman Pat Morrissey noted the $102,000 salary would put Waterloo mayoral pay just ahead of Council Bluffs. Council Bluffs has a smaller population, less geographic size and a higher property tax rate than Waterloo, he noted.
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Councilwoman Margaret Klein said she felt $95,000 would be more appropriate in Waterloo at this time.
“I don’t support a huge raise,” she said. “I’m just really uncomfortable having the highest paid mayor in the state of Iowa for a city that also charges almost the highest taxes.”
Klein also suggested Waterloo’s elected officials need to do a better job resolving tax issues and concerns about minority employment rates before getting raises.
Councilwoman Sharon Juon supported voting on the measure next week but noted she was “fearful” the action would reflect on the job of current Mayor Quentin Hart.
“I don’t want this to be taken as a referendum for or against our mayor,” she said. “I don’t want it to be perceived by him or the public that if we turn it down that’s against him, or if we approve it it’s for him.
“This has got to be about the structure … of what we want that position to pay,” Juon added.
Iowa law allows City Council members to set the pay for the mayor and council positions. But the ordinance changing the pay must be adopted before a city election to take effect after the winners of that election are seated.
Council members would need to approve any pay ordinance before the Nov. 5 city election for it to be effective Jan. 1, 2020. If no change is made now, council members could not change the compensation until Jan. 1, 2022.
Waterloo last changed the ordinance for mayor and council pay in 2005, when it boosted both salaries and tied future increases to the annual consumer price index.