by Mark R. Potter

Regional Editor

Akron -- It appears Summit County Executive James B. McCarthy will continue with his $116,000 annual salary after Council strongly rejected a proposal May 14 that would have increased it.

Members voted 10 to 1 against a measure that would have raised the executive's salary to $142,000 a year.

District 7 Councilmember Tim Crawford, who proposed the increase, was the only member to vote for it.

At-Large Councilmember Pete Crossland said the executive's salary may need re-examined in the future, but said now is not the time.

"It was one man's idea and although Tim's a creative guy, there just wasn't any urgency on this," he said.

County Finance Director Linda Phelps said the issue would have set McCarthy's salary at $1,000 higher than the salaries of all elected city and other officials of all municipalities in the county. She said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic's salary is the highest in the county for elected officials, so under the proposal, the executive would be paid $1,000 more than him. Plusquellic's Press Secretary Mark Williamson said the mayor currently makes $141,440 a year. Currently, McCarthy's salary is $1,000 more than Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh's at $115,000.

Crawford said a number of other Councilmembers were originally on board with the increase, but he said the idea lost support once the issue was covered by various media outlets.

"They started dropping like flies," said Crawford. "Unfortunately, sometimes the personalities on Council get in the way of making a clear judgment for the future."

McCarthy has opposed the legislation since it was introduced..

"I suggested [Council] tie any salary increase for Council or the executive to the increase in general fund revenue," McCarthy said after the meeting. "The rational is, if Council and the executive are going to get performance-based raises, then the economic health of our county should be the measuring guide." He said a raise currently is not warranted.

Council President's

salary to increase

Another of Crawford's salary proposals did pass, but only after it was amended.

Councilmembers approved 8 to 3 an ordinance raising the Council president's salary to 30 percent higher than the normal Council salary of approximately $20,000. The increase would set the Council's salary at $26,000, beginning in January 2009. Nick Kostandaras currently sits as the Council president.

"I thought the 30 percent would be good for whoever is the president in 2009," Kostandaras said, adding he could be reappointed and still serving in that position then.

"The president has to spend about twice as much time doing things as the rest of Council, so they should be paid more," Crossland said.

Crawford's original version of the measure would have increased the president's salary by 50 percent.

Although he voted against the amended version, Crawford said he is happy to see the salary increase.

"At least we've made a step toward compensating the president for doing the extra duties," he said.

E-mail: mpotter@recordpub.com

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