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Rochester City Council approves salary commission

The city of Rochester will soon be seeking applicants for a five-member commission to assess and recommend the salaries of elected officials.

The city council on Monday voted 5-2 to establish an ordinance that creates the commission. Mayor Ardell Brede will be in charge of nominating prospective members and the city council will approve them.

Council members Ed Hruska and Sandra Means voted against the commission. Means said she couldn't support it unless the ordinance required one member of a non-partisan organization. She said she is proud to be part of a non-partisan city council.

"I think the commission is a good idea, but I would like the organization professed to be non-partisan," she said.

Hruska, again, said that he doesn't see a need for the commission at all. He said the city is appropriately served by its many other citizen groups, including a Charter Commission and Ethical Practices Board.


He also said the current salaries must be appropriate as the council continues to attract public interest, with the most recent evidence being that seven people have filed as candidates for the upcoming Ward 5 election.

Yet, not one of those people is female or a minority, said council member Michael Wojcik in response to Hruska's point. Wojcik has maintained that the council isn't truly representative of Rochester because it is made up of mostly white men with higher-than-average incomes.

Salary discussions

Council President Randy Staver introduced the idea of a salary commission late last year and again in early June after observing that the council is reluctant to approve raises for itself and the mayor. He said elected officials tend to feel uncomfortable deciding their own salaries, even when they are appropriate, and that it makes sense for the citizens who elect them to recommend their salaries.

Hruska and council member Bruce Snyder voted against creating a commission during the council's June 10 committee of the whole meeting. Both said the commission wasn't necessary because the council does a good job of assessing its salary during budget time and continues to attract good candidates.

Snyder voted in favor of the commission on Monday, but only after a change he suggested was made to the language of the ordinance. The initial language, drafted by City Attorney Terry Adkins, called for the make-up of the commission to include one city resident and one representative of a non-partisan voters organization. Council members assumed that organization would be the League of Women Voters of Rochester.

However, Snyder objected to that language, saying that no organization is really non-partisan. He suggested removing the reference to a non-partisan organization and, instead, including two, rather than one, city residents. The council approved those changes.

Commission requirements


The commission also is to have one business executive, one person with public administration experience and one labor organization representative. The appointments will, eventually, all be three-year terms, but the initial members will have different term lengths: two will have three-year terms; two will have two-year terms; and one will have a one-year term.

At least every two years, but not more than once a year, the group will make recommendations to the city council regarding salaries, benefits and allowances for elected city officials.

The council will have the final say on those recommendations, according to the ordinance.


Establishment of a five-member elected officials salary commission:

Yes: Mark Bilderback, Bob Nowicki, Bruce Snyder, Randy Staver and Michael Wojcik

No: Ed Hruska and Sandra Means

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