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March 10, 2009
The Compensation Commission met on March 10, 2009 at 7:00 pm, in the Black-eyed Susan Conference Room of City Hall.
Members present: Virginia Onley, Chair; Jim Coyle; Steve Edwards; Jim Marrinan; Tom Moore
Staff in attendance: Claire Funkhouser, City Clerk; Brenda Bean, Deputy City Clerk; and Assistant City Attorney Sondra Block.
Visitors in attendance: Mark Pierczhala
Chairperson Onley opened the meeting and introduced Mark Pierzchala, who was present to offer his comments.
Mr. Pierzchala commented that he wished to reiterate some of the points that were contained in his February 18th email to the Commission. He said that he found that one of the biggest constraints in running for the office of Mayor that he encountered in 2007 was the effect it would have on his leave from work. He explained that, like a lot of employers, his personal leave and sick leave had been lumped into one account with a limited ability to carry leave from year to year. He wondered if the group might consider in their recommendation to the Mayor and Council, an allowance for leave reimbursement for office holders in the same situation. There was discussion on the Mr. Pierzchala’s proposition, but the consensus was that, while it was an interesting idea, it was not feasible. The notion of having different rules for different people would be a problem.
The members of the Commission thanked Mr. Pierzchala for his comments and proceeded with the rest of the group’s business.
Re: Approval of Minutes of February 19, 2009
Commissioner Edwards asked that where the word “comments” was used to summarize discussion be replaced with the word “discussion.” Commissioner Jim Coyle moved that the minutes, as amended, be approved. The motion was duly seconded by Commissioner Tom Moore and the minutes were unanimously approved.
Re: Approval of Agenda
Upon motion of Commissioner Coyle, duly seconded by Commissioner Marrinan and unanimously passed, the agenda for the evening was approved.
Regarding the process of how the City of Rockville recommends COLAs for City employees, City Clerk Funkhouser said that, at the request of the Commission, she had spoken with the City’s Director of Personnel, Carlos Vargas. Mr. Moore mentioned that he had also spoken with Mr. Vargas on the subject. Mr. Moore mentioned that Mr. Vargas had said that the City considered several factors, or pieces of economic information, when deciding the appropriate level for COLA’s. General discussion ensued including the following:
The group agreed that the current level of compensation is a good base. Mr. Marinnan noted that the actions of previous Mayors and Councils supported this. He said that when the recommendations of the Compensation Commission were approved, they were done so by a 3-2 split vote and when the next time a recommendation came forward, it was rejected on a vote of 4-1 because it contained another large increase. Therefore, he felt that the current rate seemed to have emerged as reasonable and adequate.
There was further discussion, similar to the discussion at the previous meeting on February 18, on ways to structure any increase in the interim year. The group also debated how to go forward assuming the CPI was used. The group agreed that their responsibility was to recommend something that would make sense for the next two years. However, their hope would be that this objective measure would continue to be used. There was discussion about the possibility of a negative CPI and the need to build into any recommendation the creation of a “hold harmless” clause.
Mr. Edwards said he continued to believe, on general principle, that any recommendation should be made, based on whether or not it made sense to the members of the Commission as the right thing to do, not on the probability of whether or not it would indeed be accepted by the Mayor and Council. Ultimately, the decision will be up to them.
A motion was proposed by Commissioner Edwards to state that the Commission accepts the current stipend of the Mayor and Council to be a reasonable and adequate stipend. Commissioner Marrinan seconded the motion. In discussion of the motion, there was concern that, since the meeting for March 18th had already been advertised, that the group should not act on anything specific until the close of the next meeting, as the Commission wants to receive and absorb as much public input as possible before coming to any final decisions. Therefore, the motion was withdrawn.
In discussion, the group reiterated that the current level of Mayor and Council compensation is a good base on which to proceed, and that the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area CPI may be the appropriate measure to use to go forward in recommending an increase.
Re: Next Steps
Staff will check with Mr. Vargas and the Budget Office on the best month to use (CPI index) for the May 18th budget adoption, either January or February.
Upon motion of Mr. Marrinan, duly seconded by Mr. Moore and unanimously passed, the meeting adjourned at 8:40 pm. The next meeting will be held on March 18, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. at City Hall.