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Martinsburg Council votes against upping its pay

February 12, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Martinsburg City Council members voted Wednesday night against increasing their monthly pay from $200 to $400. The mayor's monthly pay would have been increased from $500 to $600.

The proposal was voted down 4-3.

The increase was proposed by Councilman Glenville Twigg, who said that although council members love the city and probably would work for free if needed, they also agree the current pay is not appropriate given the amount of work they do.

"We have different opinions but we all have our hearts in the same place," Twigg said.

Considering that Berkeley County Commission members make around $30,000 a year, doubling council members salaries to $400 a month seemed reasonable, he said. He added that council members receive no benefits.

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Councilman Richard Yauger, who voted for the increase along with Twigg and Councilman Chris Baker, said a raise has not been granted since 1996.

"Prices have gone up. Inflation has hit all of us to different degrees," he said.

Disagreeing "vehemently," Councilman Gregg Wachtel said he could not vote to give himself a raise and then face city employees.

"I'm not in for the money," Wachtel said.

Twigg countered that all city employees are given a raise each year, along with cost-of-living salary increases.

Councilman Donald Anderson pointed out that more than 50 regular city council, special city council and committee meetings are held a year. Councilmen also answer telephone calls from constituents and are expected to attend various events.

"Most importantly, we are the watchdog of the citizens' money," Anderson said.

Despite the demands, Anderson said that what council members earn is comparable to what is paid in other municipalities in the state.

Anderson voted against the increase, as did Wachtel, Max Parkinson and Roger Lewis.

Baker, Lewis and Parkinson did not comment on the increase during the discussion.

Although he cannot vote unless there is a tie, Mayor George Karos said he would vote against the idea if given a chance. He did not say why.

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