Council to give up raises amid city budget woes

July 21, 2009

Recognizing the city's tight budget and looming layoffs, Akron City Council members have agreed to return their annual 2.5 percent pay increases.

Council President Marco Sommerville said Monday that he would introduce legislation confirming the body's intentions at next week's meeting.

"The mayor's cabinet has already done it, and I think it's only fair that Council does it," Sommerville said. "Everybody on this Council agreed and I was glad to hear that."

The raises equal about $750 for each Council member.

Noting that nearly 80 percent of the city's budget is salary and benefits, Sommerville said that difficult times call for difficult decisions and sometimes, sacrifices. Because of the budget crunch, Council also is considering a city employee voluntary separation plan offered by Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic.

If approved, full-time city employees will be given the option to voluntarily resign or retire between Aug. 1 and 14. Those who participate in the separation plan would be paid a severance of 30 percent of t he first $50,000 in base annual salary, and 5 percent of the base salary that exceeds that amount. For instance, a city employee who earned $70,000 would receive $15,000 for the first $50,000 and $1,000 for the excess $20,000 - resulting in a total $16,000 payment.

Summit County passed a similar separation plan in the spring.

"In any business the largest portion of expenses is always salaries and benefits," Sommerville said. "It's going to be difficult to deal with these issues but they have to be dealt with."