Members of Columbiana City Council are long overdue for a raise, but now is not the time for an increase.
Back in December, the issue of council members' salaries was the topic of discussion at two meetings. The main concern seemed to be the disparity between Columbiana's salaries and those of other Columbiana County communities.
Columbiana council members are paid $20 per month, while council members in Salem, Lisbon and East Liverpool make around $300 a month. East Palestine pays its council members $100 a month. Considering the vast difference in wage scales, it's a wonder the disparity issue hasn't been raised earlier.
There is no disputing the fact that Columbiana council members are deserving of a pay raise. The city is probably the most efficiently operated in the county and one would have to think that council's decisions are at least partly responsible for that. However, now doesn't seem to be the time to even discuss the matter. The city charter does not allow those currently serving to vote themselves a pay increase. Any ordinance to increase wages would not take effect until new council members take office or the current crew is re-elected.
Since 31 full-time city employees recently agreed to accept a three-year wage freeze, now would not be an appropriate time for councilmen to give themselves a raise, regardless of how little they are being compensated. Even a minuscule increase would not be viewed favorably by those whose wages have been frozen. Besides, the city is projecting budget deficits by the end of the year.
Council should sit tight and wait for better times before considering raises for itself.