Bladensburg reaches compromise on pay raise for elected officials -- Gazette.Net



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Bladensburg residents said they are satisfied — but not thrilled — with an ordinance that would double the salaries of their elected officials.

In a July 8 meeting, officials introduced an ordinance to raise annual pay for council members from $4,800 to $9,600, and increase the mayor’s annual salary from $6,000 to $9,600, effective in October.

“It sounds hefty but certainly not like what they were originally proposing,” said Peter Colombo, 54, of Bladensburg.

In April, the council proposed a budget that would have included $18,000 annual salaries for the mayor and two elected officials. The council proposed salaries up to $14,400 in June before arriving at the $9,600 figure.

“There’s always differences in opinion, and I believe we take all that into consideration to make a final decision,” Mayor Walter Lee James Jr. said. “It was a culmination of input.”

Bladensburg resident Selwyn Bridgeman, who said he is running for mayor in the town’s October election, called the $9,600 salary “acceptable” but said that the initial discussions lacked transparency.

According to Bridgeman, the pay increase was not explicitly mentioned by the council when it was first introduced in an April meeting. He said that session’s focus was on extending the lengths of elected officials’ terms.

Colombo and Bridgeman said they would have preferred the funds go toward town programs like garbage collection, rather than salary increases for elected officials.

“Because of the collaboration of the council and the community, I am confident that we made the best decision,” James said. “All members of our council work extremely hard. It’s something that we take very seriously.”

The ordinance must be passed within 60 days of the July 8 session, according to the town charter. With the next council meeting scheduled for September, James said he will call a special meeting to vote on the ordinance, which he said he thinks will pass.

egoldwein@gazette.net