Wheeling City Council Raises Likely Headed for Citywide Vote

Wheeling voters should get to decide on May 8 if they want to increase salaries for the positions of mayor and city council, thanks to an objection by Jefferson Avenue resident George Jones.

Council is set to meet at noon Tuesday on the first floor of the City-County Building at 1500 Main St. However, the pay raise ordinance — which appeared on council’s agenda for first reading Jan. 16 — will not be up for vote Tuesday.

“The second reading of the ordinance adjusting council/mayor salaries for inflation will take place at a special meeting on Feb. 13. Prior to council discussing and voting on this matter, there will be a public hearing,” Mayor Glenn Elliott said, although he noted the time of the special session is yet to be determined.

According to Elliott, the plan is for council to pass the pay increase — and then allow city voters to approve or deny it at the ballot box.

“It has been our intent all along to have the voters of Wheeling ultimately decide this issue, and that will now happen as an objection has been filed. Second, this pay adjustment, if approved, will not take effect until a new city council is elected and sworn in in July 2020,” Elliott said.

The 1992 city charter establishes the annual compensation for the position of mayor at about $11,300, with council getting $8,500. The new ordinance would raise these amounts to approximately $20,000 for the mayor and $15,000 for a council member.

“I believe it is a fair proposal. By 2020, it will have been 28 years since the respective salaries for city council members and for the mayor were set by the city charter of 1992,” Elliott said.

“Ultimately these jobs should attract the best and brightest candidates — and while I don’t think many people do this for the money, I do think that money factors into the equation for some people when they are considering running for office,” Vice Mayor Chad Thalman added.

The relatively light meeting agenda for Tuesday includes a vote on two separate ordinances that will call for spending a total of about $478,000 to purchase new vehicles and equipment for the Public Works Department. After the city received numerous complaints about slow snow removal during January, officials said this new equipment should help solve the problem.