CITIZENS GROUP doesn't believe pay ordinance a good idea

Friday, July 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(TULSA) - A citizens group doesn't believe an ordinance before the Tulsa City Council to significantly raise the pay of council members and the mayor will go over well with residents.

``Some people may favor a cost-of-living increase,'' Randy Bertwell, head of Concerned Citizens of Tulsa, said Thursday. ``But I don't think anyone would vote to double their council member's wages. A lot of us don't feel we're getting what we're paying for now.''

Bertwell has been putting up signs at intersections across Tulsa trying to arouse public interest. He said that council members knew what the salaries were when they ran for office, and there are good people in Tulsa willing to serve their community at the existing pay.

Councilman Sam Roop two weeks ago advanced the proposal to raise the mayor's salary from $70,000 to $110,000 and council members' pay to $27,000 from $12,000.

Roop said he expected some political fallout when he recommended the raises.

``I expected to draw some fire, but it's still the correct thing to do,'' Roop said.

An independent study of 17 cities with the same form of government as Tulsa and with comparable populations places the mayor's salary ``dead last,'' he said. Council pay ranked third from last.

When Tulsa voters approved the charter in 1990, they made it the council's responsibility to adjust salaries, he noted.

Roop said past councils have avoided the issue, and if this council doesn't deal with it, the next council will have to do so.

``We are not here because of pay,'' Roop said. ``But pay does attract good people. That's true with any job.''

The final reading of the ordinance and vote is expected at the council's July 26 meeting. Roop said the proposal could be amended then, but he hopes it will stand as presented.

If the council passes the measure, it will not go into effect until a new mayor and council are seated next year.

Mayor Susan Savage is not seeking re-election and referred comments to Don Cannon, administrator for the council.

Cannon said the salary increases are ``way overdue.'' There have been no increases.

But Bertwell said he doesn't see that city council members work that hard.

``Very rarely is there a full council when it meets every two weeks,'' Bertwell said. ``They don't return phone calls, they don't get along with each other ... there are a lot of reasons we don't feel they need this kind of raise.''