Oak Harbor council tables cuts to salaries, benefits

Neither the mayor nor his chief critic on the City Council pulled any punches during last week’s meeting.

The issue was money. Mayor Scott Dudley asked the council to cut salaries and medical insurance for all elected officials, which include himself and the council members.

The council members weren’t very keen on the ideas.

They all agreed that it wasn’t a good time to take up the issues, especially since they are in the process of considering cost-cutting changes to the city’s skyrocketing health insurance costs. Councilman Beth Munns was absent.

Councilwoman Tara Hizon objected to the mayor’s insistence that council member are part-time employees. She said they work closer to full-time and should be considered “salaried” employees.

Councilman Rick Almberg, however, was more pointed in his comments. He said Dudley’s proposal was a political move during the campaign season.

He said the amount the council received as compensation pales in comparison to the $600,000 that Dudley “kissed off” by firing a series of people in administrative positions. He said the council’s $600-a-month salary pales in comparison to the amount Dudley wasted.

“That’s not just chump change,” he said.

Almberg made a motion to table both the medical insurance and salary proposals until after the election in November.

Dudley objected, saying Almberg couldn’t table the salary issue since it hadn’t been introduced. He said a “normal municipality” would wait to table an issue until after it was discussed.

Interim City Attorney Grant Weed agreed with the mayor.

As a result, the council voted to table the proposed to eliminate the eligibility for elected officials to participate in the city’s health insurance. Later, they briefly discussed the salary issue before voting to table it also.

Afterward, Dudley said he wasn’t surprised that the council members tabled the issue, claiming they have a habit of ducking difficult decisions.


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