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Council Votes to Decrease Proposed Raise for Ludlow Administrator

The Ludlow city administrator saw her proposed pay increased reduced by a vote of council at a special meeting on Thursday night where the city's proposed 2017-18 budget was read for the first time.

"We feel there is a lot of hard work that went into (the budget), a lot of time went into it, and generally, we think it is a good budget," said Councilman Tom Amann, who reviewed Mayor Ken Wynn's budget proposal with Councilman Josh Boone. Amann and Boone make up council's finance committee. The only change the pair recommended was to reduce the proposed 8.3 percent raise for City Administrator Elishia Chamberlain.

In the budget, all employees could see up to a 4 percent pay increase.

Mayor Wynn argued that Chamberlain had earned a higher raise.

"Mr. Mayor, I know Josh and I feel that we're coming around, we're getting reserves, but we're not where we need to be and we feel that a 4 percent max for all employees - at this time to do more than 4 percent would not be fiscally responsible and we would just not agree to do that," Amann said.

Chamberlain cited a heavy workload and argued that she accepted the position three years ago at a lower salary than she desired so that she could prove herself in the role. Chamberlain and Wynn argued that that has happened.

"I'm totally dumbfounded," Wynn said. "We had the best audit, everything has been cleaned up. I can't believe this is happening. This woman has proven herself, moved things forward. Good things are happening. I'm totally dumbfounded that finance wants to do this."

Amann and Boone's recommendation would reduce the proposed potential raise by roughly $3,000.

Councilman Bill Whiteley agreed with Wynn. "I think Elishia has done a bang-up job. I think an argument over $3,000 is a joke," Whiteley said.

Recently, the city added an assistant to help in the administration department, and Amann argued that that should help with Chamberlain's workload.

"You are doing a lot of things and hopefully the new administrative position filled at $35,000 is going to take some of the work you would normally be doing and maybe you can give this person more work to where maybe you're not spending as much time," Amann said. "If you put a cap on all the employees at 4 percent, we shouldn't be saying you should be getting an additional 4.3 to put you up at 8.3"

Wynn continued to defend his proposal.

"We've got projects that are coming and it's because of her work and I feel like now you're saying, Good work, but we don't want to reward her," the mayor said.

"That's not what we're saying," Amann said.
 
The city attorney also defended the proposal, suggesting that Chamberlain has been a better administrator than her predecessor, Brian Richmond. "You have to pay for talent," said Frederick Johnson.
 
Chamberlain also made an argument for her own raise, and said that Boone had previously voted for a budget that included raises for employees that reached as high as 17 percent, though Boone disputed that.
 
"I'm fine. We can move forward. I don't want this to be an argument," said Chamberlain, who previously worked at the Northern Kentucky Area Development District and served a year as administrator for Ryland Heights. "I just think I should be paid commensurate with other cities.
 
"I've saved you a fortune."
 
When the vote came to amend the budget, Boone and Amann were joined by Matt Williams and John Gaiser in supporting the reduction of Chamberlain's raise. Whitely and Jordan Scheid voted against the change.
 
The budget will have its second reading and final vote at next month's city council meeting.
 
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: Ludlow City Administrator Elishia Chamberlain smiles at Mayor Ken Wynn after a vote to reduce her proposed raise on Thursday (RCN)