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Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters

SEMINOLE — The City Council approved an ordinance to provide an automatic annual merit increase in the compensation paid to the mayor and council members at its Oct. 12 meeting.

By a 6-1 vote, with council member Trish Springer dissenting, the council passed the ordinance to establish an automatic annual pay increase that will use the same percent merit increases provided each year to Seminole general employees.

“I would like to see the council to pass a compensation ordinance making the pay increase automatic, so the council would not need to vote on it every year,” said Mayor Leslie Waters at the Sept. 28 council meeting.

The change makes annual pay raises for the mayor and the council consistent with the pay raise percentages budgeted for annual merit pay increases for the city’s general employees, council member Jim Olliver said.

In the current year, the Seminole mayor’s annual compensation is $11,000 and council members receive $8,500.

The annual compensation for the mayor and council members — who work on a part-time basis — has not been adjusted since January 2015.

Springer opposed the ordinance, saying a uniform raise would be inequitable.

“Some of us perform more than others, so I don’t agree with that,” Springer said. “I think that we are right where we should be (in terms of compensation). With COVID, we have not been able to be more active in person, especially with the community.”

Olliver said the automatic annual raise would not literally be a merit increase for mayor and council.

“It’s not really a merit increase, it’s a cost-of-living increase,” said Olliver at the Sept. 28 meeting. “It would be based on the merit increase given to all Seminole general employees.”

Council member Chris Burke said the mayor and council’s annual compensation for their part-time job is nominal.

“It’s good to point out that we are not talking big numbers here,” Burke said.

City Manager Ann Toney-Deal said the ordinance would eliminate the need for the mayor’s and council’s compensation to be reviewed and adjusted annually and would avoid accumulating long periods where compensation increases aren’t awarded.

“Therefore, there’s never a large (pay) adjustment,” Toney-Deal said. “It’s a cost that’s something you can budget for.”

A final reading of the revised pay policy will be at the council’s Nov. 2 meeting.

In other news

The council reviewed the recreation department’s proposed revised fee policy during its workshop following its regular meeting.

The council is considering raising recreational fees for non-residents who wish to use the city’s recreational programs and facilities.

Seminole recreation fees were last increased Nov. 1, 2017.

Under the proposed revised rate plan, Seminole residents still are not required to pay for city recreational programs and facilities.

The one exception is Seminole’s summer camp, where residents and non-residents pay a fee to participate.

“That is because there is such a demand for our summer camp that we keep it that way to ensure that Seminole residents get priority in getting into summer camp first,” said Becky Gunter, director of the recreation department.

Gunter told the council that the non-resident fee increases are needed for the department to stay competitive and to generate revenue.

Under the recreation department’s proposed revised recreation fee plan, a non-resident recreation user will be required to purchase a $150 annual non-resident membership card, up from $120.

A seasonal non-resident can purchase a seasonal membership for $100, up from $70 this year. The card is valid from Oct. 1 to April 30.

A non-resident family recreation user can purchase an annual family membership for $400, up from $360 this year.

The proposed recreation fee increase would take effect Jan. 3, 2022.

The council will vote on the proposed recreation fee increases at its Oct. 26 meeting.