Erie’s City Council President, Sonya Arrington, hopes to start a conversation on raising the salaries of those who serve on the panel. We spoke with three Erie City Council Members today, all saying there have been no formal conversations on the topic. Some could consider it long overdue, while others may prefer to keep their focus on bigger issues.
Imagine going without a pay raise for more than 30 years. That’s the status of the elected members of Erie City Council. It’s a part-time job paying $6,000 per year.
Newcomer Liz Allen says she knew what she was getting into when she decided to run and a raise is not a priority. “I have looked at how other councils in third class cities function in PA. I got ideas on how they work and their structure and I would like to be a part of that conversation.”
When it comes to compensation, though, it’s more than just the salary… council members do have access to medical insurance, although there is some out of pocket expenses and they have an ‘opt out’ option. In 2017, the city spent $97,054 in group insurance. In 2018, a total of $113,008 is budgeted for insurance. As for the city’s pension contribution, they are unable to receive a pension, as the position is part-time.
The second newly elected member, Kathy Schaaf, says it’s an intense workload, but she would vote against a pay raise. “I definitely realize that it is not part-time; it is full time, but at the same time after sitting through the budget sessions I would not vote for a raise.”
This topic is not on the agenda for tomorrow night’s council meeting, although it could pop up for discussion at the caucus meeting prior, or as an unexpected topic during the meeting.
Raises for elected officials cannot happen midterm, so any approved increase wouldn’t take effect until 2020 for the council.