Weirton takes step to increase pay for mayor, council

WEIRTON — City Council took the first step Tuesday to increasing the yearly pay of future elected officials in the city.

During their regular meeting, council members approved the first reading of two ordinances to increase the pay for the city’s mayor and the next board of council members.

Under the proposal, which still must pass a second reading, the mayor’s salary would be increased from its current $4,500 per year to $11,000. A council member’s salary would raise from $2,700 per year to $7,500.

Those voting in favor of the ordinances were Council members Tim Connell, Michael Adams, George Ash and Enzo Fracasso. Voting against it were Council members Fred Marsh and Terry Weigel.

Ward 5 Councilman Douglas Jackson was not in attendance.

“This is a pretty steep jump for these salaries,” Marsh said.

He noted he is a business owner, and, as such, pays his share of city taxes and fees.

“I don’t mind paying if I get a return on my investment,” Marsh said.

He suggested, instead of increasing pay to the elected officials, council should focus on increasing the salaries of some city employees, noting truck drivers as an example.

City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo said the city’s finance director and human resources director are looking at what employee pay adjustments can be made.

“Those two are working on it,” DiBartolomeo said “That is a key issue.”

Ash, reiterating the pay raise would be effective with the next City Council on July 1, noted the city’s Business and Occupation Tax has been an issue in the past but doesn’t see it as a concern now.

“Every city I see, they all have a B&O tax,” Ash said, adding he hasn’t received a single call from businesses on the issue.

Ash said the current pay works out to $42.50 a week, and said several members of council donate more money to the community than they receive for serving.

Connell noted serving on council is not “an eight-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week,” position.

“It’s 24 hours a day,” he said. “If you call me at 10 o’clock at night, I’ll take your call.”

Weigel suggested the city would be better served developing a capital improvement plan for several city-owned facilities, noting structural concerns with several recreational properties — including the Millsop Community Center — as well as the city building and Public Works building.

“We could be spending $5 million,” Weigel said. “We’ve got some decisions to make.”

Mayor Harold Miller noted Weirton is no longer in a situation where one or two large employers take care of the city’s needs, adding none of the new businesses have complained to the city about its tax structure.

“They know we’re going to continue to grow,” Miller said, adding that with more businesses, increased revenue will come to the city to fund projects and other needs.