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Weirton Raises Are Appropriate

Holding public office in a small city, especially one just beginning to emerge from years of economic decline, is not easy. It also is not lucrative; pay rates for mayors and municipal council members tend to be quite low.

With the outlook for their city’s economy brighter than it has been for some time, Weirton officials have agreed to increase salaries paid to the mayor and city council members. State law prohibits them from increasing their own pay during their current terms, so the raises will go into effect for those elected in the future.

Raises approved by city council last week will take the mayor’s pay from the current $4,500 per year up to $11,000. Council members, now paid $2,700, will receive $7,500.

During the council meeting at which raises were approved last week, City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo pointed out they were his idea. He came up with rates after comparing pay in Weirton to Wheeling and Fairmont, DiBartolomeo explained.

“It’s a 24/7 job,” he said in telling those at the meeting why he believes the raises are appropriate. “Anyone who thinks this is an easy job, I challenge you to run for this office.”

DiBartolomeo is right on the mark.

The last time Weirton’s mayor and council members received pay raises was 1991. Given the rate of inflation since then, increases approved last week would just about get the mayor and council members back to where their predecessors were 27 years ago.

It is a measure of the concern for Weirton’s wellbeing that council members were far from unanimous in approving the change. The vote was 5-2 on the mayor’s salary. It was 4-3 on council pay.

Obviously, should the economic outlook change, council members can alter the raise plan. In Weirton, salaries for the mayor and council do not require a vote of the people.

Assuming the economy continues to improve, however, the raises granted last week seem appropriate.

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