Facade program OK'd, wages on hold in Clinton

Differing opinions leads to stalemate

CLINTON, Iowa - The Clinton City Council couldn't decide whether or not to raise wages for city government officials at their meeting Tuesday night. 

On the agenda was the third reading for an amendment to the ordinance that controls the mayor's wage, and a similar amendment to the one that controls council member's wages. The council could have taken a final vote on Tuesday and passed the ordinance.

Currently, the Clinton mayor is paid $15,000 annually. The amendment would raise that paycheck to $18,000. 

It would be a $3,000 pay raise for council members as well. Their pay would go from $6,000 to $9,000.

There was a clear split down the middle. Council member Sean Connell made a motion to table to ordinance and revisit it in Committee of the Whole discussion. 

"I didn't do this for the money, I did it for the community," said Connell. "I think it's in our best interest just to look at it. Whether you agree or not, let's look at the comparisons, let's go through it, it doesn't hurt anything that takes place this election cycle."

Even that vote was split down the middle, meaning it was not tabled. 

The younger members of council are the ones who do not want to see a pay raise. 

"I'm going to do my term, I'm going to make the best decisions I can," said council member Cody Seeley. "My compensation for it, yes, it is fair that we're compensated for some of our time, but there's also compensation above and beyond the monetary element of it."

Seth Odor joined Seeley and Connell in voting down the ordinance.

Other members were in favor of the pay raises. That includes council members Julie Alessee, Lynn McGraw and Ed O'Neill. O'Neill spoke and said it's about encouraging participation in city government.

"When you move down the trail and you have people with 2-3 kids who have baseball games and other obligations, you have to have something that's going to draw them in," said O'Neill.

Every council member stood firm on their stance. With a tie, it is automatically moved to the next city council meeting July 25.

On the other hand, passed unanimously was the Facade Improvement Program. This program will take tax money and use it as an incentive for business owners in the downtown. It goes through the Downtown Clinton Alliance.

"It helps the business owners who want to make building improvements, but maybe financially can't. It gives them an incentive to do so. I've already had four interested people, and it hasn't even passed council yet," said Director of the Downtown Clinton Alliance Karen Rowell before the meeting began. "That's a good sign, that shows that the building owners want to make it better. A nicer area will bring more business in."

The program will reimburse business owners for those building improvements. For example, if a downtown business spends $20,000 on new windows for the front of their building, they are eligible for a $10,000 reimbursement. 

Downtown businesses are the ones eligible. Rowell says this is important because many of the downtown businesses in Clinton are older buildings that are in need of repair. She says the heart of a city is it's downtown, and it's important to keep up with maintenance. 

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