It was a tiny three-word item near the back of Monday night’s Emmaus Borough Council meeting agenda that motivated borough resident Lynn Donches to address council Monday night – “Council Pay Increases.”
Nonetheless, Donches, who is also an East Penn School Board member, had a lot to say about those three words, asking council to vote against the proposed pay raise that, if approved, will amount to a $600- per-year raise for each council member.
The raises would take effect in 2014.
“At a time when municipalities are struggling to balance budgets,” Donches told council during the public comment portion of the meeting, “I ask you to vote against the increase and instead apply that money to another line item that is a need, not a want.”
Donches, who lives at 559 Minor St., also referenced another item on the agenda – a proposal to eliminate one council meeting per month for June, July and August 2013 – stating that if council votes to drop the three meetings, it is in effect approving a pay increase anyhow.
Donches told council that she understands how hard the members work and how much time it takes to prepare for each meeting but still was beseeching the group to either vote against the raise or “put it to a referendum and let the voters decide.
“You volunteered for this,” Donches said. “Public service is just that, a service.”
Councilman Brian Holtzhafer, who heads council’s Budget and Finance committee, told Donches before she left the podium that the proposed pay raises would go into effect in 2014 and would not the 2013 budget.
Council members currently earn $2,001 per year and the council president earns $2,401 per year. The 2014 raise, if approved, would raise the annual salaries to $2,601 for members and $3,001 for the council president.
Council did not act on the proposed pay increases but approved the elimination of the first council meeting of the month for June, July and August 2013 by a 7-0 vote.
After the meeting, Holtzhafer said there was never any intention to vote on the pay increase Monday night. It was on the agenda because it had been discussed during a Budget and Finance committee meeting but any such raise would have to be enacted via ordinance and that would happen at a later time.