Employees and elected officials in Columbus will receive a two-percent raise next year. The city council gave its final approval to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) proposals Tuesday night. The first ordinance, proposing only with city employees, passed unanimously. The second ordinance, dealing with a proposed increase for the mayor, clerk-treasurer and member of the city council, encompassed much more discussion.
During the first reading two weeks ago, Councilman Tim Shuffett proposed an amendment to the ordinance, exempting members of the city council from receiving a COLA. He cited an ongoing salary study encompassing all city positions that won’t be ready until later this year. Shuffett argued that council members shouldn’t see a pay increase until the study is finished, meaning that members likely wouldn’t see a pay raise until 2019. That amendment ultimately passed on a vote of 5 to 2.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, Councilman Tom Dell proposed an amendment, reintroducing the COLA for council members. He argued that it is important for city pay adjustments to be consistent. He says that the ongoing salary study may show a large disparity between what council members in Columbus earn, versus those in cities of similar size. Delaying an increase may make it more difficult for Columbus to keep pace with these other cities. Councilman Frank Miller echoed Dell’s sentiments that increases for elected officials need to be consistent. Councilman Dascal Bunch agreed, noting that the increase would amount to approximately $1,050 per year, divided among all seven council members.
The amendment to include city council members passed on a vote of 4 to 3. The final vote approving a COLA for the mayor, clerk-treasurer and council members passed on a vote of 6 to 1.