Mayor unsuccessfully tries
to cancel raise; electric rate may rise
By TIMOTHY COX
MENDON — Village employees apparently will get the pay
raises recently granted to them by Mendon Village Council despite
a call by the mayor to rescind them.
Mayor Ron Griesdorn used a special meeting Tuesday to attempt
to reopen discussions on the pay raise issue in the waning days
of his administration. But council failed to get a quorum of
members, so it met informally with just three members and the
mayor. The group also talked about an anticipated electric rate
increase and a lease agreement with Bright.net.
Griesdorn brought up the pay issue after a contentious debate
about the town’s electric fund and whether a rate increase
is necessary. Finances also are tight for the rest of the village’s
“If we don’t know where we’re sitting, why
in the hell are we giving raises?” Griesdorn said.
Griesdorn said some people in town already are equating the
electric rate increase with the pay raises.
Council President Roy Davis, who successfully lobbied at the
Dec. 16 regular meeting for council to keep the 3 percent raises
in the budget for 2004, said there is nothing wrong with the
electric rate increase being partially used to fund wage increases.
The town’s Board of Public Affairs had recommended no
raises in light of looming budget problems.
Other council members dismissed the discussion by pointing to
council’s prior vote in favor of the pay hikes.
Griesdorn said council should “un-vote” the raises.
The electric rate increase would generate a total of about $56,000
annually. The cost of the additional payroll with the raises
would be about $2,500, village officials said.
Council member Janice Clay said residents who don’t like
the increase can “suck it up,” because rates haven’t
been boosted in nearly 20 years.
“I don’t think ($2,500) is going to make or break
the system,” Clay said.
As for the electric rate, it apparently will take effect Jan.
1. Some council members had believed they must approve the increase
before it could take effect, but officials said Tuesday that
the Board of Public Affairs has the discretion to adjust rates.
That board has called for the minimum charge to be doubled from
$3.50 to $7 monthly and for kilowatt-hour rates to be adjusted
slightly to avoid a $20,000 deficit in the electric fund next
Board of Public Affairs Chairman Karl Duff said he is investigating
the electric funds performance in recent years to see why a
healthy balance has turned into a deficit. Duff told council
members he believes there may be some accounting problems that
have drawn too much money from certain electric fund line items
to help pay general operating costs.
“Something’s gone haywire,” Duff said.
Village officials also believe there may be a glitch in state
accounting computer software that prevents them from getting
a clear picture of the electric department’s finances.
The three council members also briefly discussed a proposed
lease agreement with Bright.net to install and use an antenna
on the village’s water tower. With only half of council
members present, council could not vote on the issue, which
has been in the negotiation stages for nearly a year.
Some council members had expressed concerns about exit language
in the contract, insurance issues and the cost of utilities
for the Bright.net apparatus.
The three council members in attendance Tuesday said there concerns
have been addressed as long as the village’s insurance
agent gives the OK that existing coverage meets the terms of
the lease. The five-year lease would pay the town $1,080 annually.
Concerns about exit language were clarified by Solicitor Judy
Koesters and officials have decided the electricity use by the
antenna would be negligible.
It is not clear whether village officials will delay action
on the lease until their regular January meeting or meeting
again in special session to attempt a vote.