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Council approves pay raise for tax collector

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

A split Baldwin Borough Council agreed to give the town's tax collector a 24 percent pay raise next year that totals $2,400.

The salary increase is the first for the borough's tax collector in eight years.

Council members at a special meeting on Friday night, in a 4-2 vote, approved the pay raise, set to begin in 2014. Council members Bob Collet and Larry Brown dissented. Councilman Ed Moeller was absent. The borough's base salary for the tax collector is $10,000 this year. Council members discussed the pay raise for the last two months and were divided when it came time to decide.

“If we have to (worry) about $2,400, we've got big problems,” Councilman John “Butch” Ferris said.

Both municipal and school district officials were required to set their local tax collector salaries by Friday so that the information would be available to candidates seeking office in the May 21 primary, according to state rules.

Baldwin tax collector Gail Dobson Mikush submitted a letter of request to council in November seeking a “cost of living” pay increase for the position.

This pay raise will hold for the next four year elected term of Baldwin's tax collector, which runs from 2014 to 2017. The salary increase, divided over 12 years, equals about 2 percent a year, said Mikush, who has served as Baldwin's tax collector since 1984 and plans to seek re-election.

The tax collector's job is about more than sending out bills and has become a full-time job, Mikush said. A move by Baldwin officials to send out tax bills earlier in the year has nearly doubled the work-load, she said.

“I run this office on a shoe string budget,” said Mikush, who often does work at home and on the weekends. “I don't ask for anything.”

Some Baldwin council members questioned the 24 percent pay raise.

“It's too much money at one time,” Collet said, also questioning how the borough could give such a high percentage pay raise to the tax collector four years in advance.

Collet also noted that other elected officials in Baldwin have not had pay raises during this time period, he said.

This pay raise, too, will put Baldwin's tax collector at a higher rate of pay from the municipality than most others in neighboring towns, Collet said.

Moeller last week recommended council give the tax collector a graduated pay raise, spreading the increase out over the four years. His recommendation was to give an 18 percent bump in the first year, followed by 2 percent increases each of the following years of the term until 2017.

This plan would have bumped the tax collector salary to $11,800 in 2014, $12,036 in 2015, $12,277 in 2016 and $12,523 in 2017.

A motion for a graduated salary increase failed in a 4-2 vote on Friday, with council members John Conley, Ferris, Vice President Michael Stelamsczyk and President David Depretis dissenting.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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