In an effort to set an example of fiscal responsibility for their community, officials in Granite City, Illinois, approximately 10 miles northeast of St. Louis, have rejected pay raises for the mayor, treasurer and city clerk—and Mayor Ed Hagenauer supports the decision.
By law, the city council is required every four years to consider a salary hike for its mayor, who currently makes $68,500 a year, and the treasurer and city clerk, who each make $62,500. Had they been approved, the $2,000 increases would have gone into effect in May.
Ed Hagenauer lauded the council for being fiscally responsible at a time when the region's economy is reeling after losing one of its biggest employers.
U.S. Steel idled its local mill approximately eight months ago, slowing the operation to "the bare minimum" and laying off 1,500 steel workers.
In addition to the lost steel incomes, Granite City, which Hagenauer describes as a manufacturing town that has served as home to a number of industries over the years, never fully recovered from the Great Recession.
"Even our housing market has struggled to recover, and I think this is the first year, probably in the last four or five, our EAV (equalized assessed value) actually grew," Hagenauer said. "We passed a surplus budget of $3,000...part of that budget didn't include raises for the elected officials."
Hagenauer said it was his understanding that the council members, each of whom works part-time and earns less than $10,000 annually from the city, have not voted a pay raise for themselves in over 25 years.
Hagenauer said that as Granite City heads into contract negotiations next year with five different labor unions, he hopes the unions consider and follow the city's self-initiated restraint—and likewise not demand higher wages.
Hagenauer said city officials, if necessary, will tell union representatives, "Listen, we can't afford raises. We're not going to take one, and we're hoping that you understand that and you'll follow through and follow suit.”
Hagenauer said that despite all of the challenges the town faces, he feels confident Granite City's economy will recover.
"We are very hopeful that the steel mill will go back; we are very hopeful that we continue to grow," Hagenauer said.