Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bessemer city council considering eliminating their own salaries

By CHARITY SMITH

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Bessemer — The Bessemer City Council debated Monday night on eliminating the salaries of council members to help ease budget concerns.

“If we’re going to set the example of how serious this is, the first place we should go is we shouldn’t take our pay,” said council member Terry Kryshak.

According to City Manager Charly Loper, the city is $155,000 in the hole.

“I really just strongly recommend that we play this as conservatively as possible until we have a better idea of where our income is going to be,” Loper said. “Our budget is currently $155,000 in the hole and that is a really scary number.”

Council member Linda Nelson argued against cutting council members’ pay.

“As far as the city council’s pay, Lord knows there is not a person here who is going to get rich from the city council’s pay that we make, but I do think that we put forth a lot of effort into the council, especially this last couple years,” said Nelson. “We’ve had so many meetings, we’ve had extra meetings, we’ve had just different things that we’ve had to attend to. Since this whole social distancing thing has come out, I think we’ve saved the city a ton of money just in gas alone that we’ve had to use. I’m really not in favor of discontinuing the council’s pay. I just think it is a little perk.”

Council member Lou Miskovich argued that he does not do his job for the pay, but rather for the city, adding he forfeited his council salary a month ago, “so that other things could get done.”

“I personally can go without the money for the rest of my term if need be. I don’t understand why it is such a big issue with everything that is going on in the world,” said Miskovich.

Kryshack also said he has been giving his council pay back to the city.

Mayor Adam Zak expressed his concern that if the council works for free they might not care as much about the city and their jobs.

“Sometimes it’s not about the money, it’s more about, at least in the back of your head, thinking you’re getting something for the effort you’re putting in,” Zak said. “Sometimes you might get in the back of your head, ‘Well I do this job for free, what the hell do I care.’ That’s what can’t happen.”

The council did agrees on some cuts, including eliminating 90-day workers, the library will not be ordering any new items this year, and the council will limit the amount of public hearings it holds.

“I’d rather have the 90-day workers than have me getting a check,” Miskovich said.

Council members salaries amount to a total of $5,300 annually, which according to Loper, would only pay for two 90-day workers.

In the end, the council decided to have two budgets drawn up — one with the city council members pay and one with out.

The council also discussed zoning modifications to including allowing microbreweries and distilleries to open in the city, and whether it is better to condemn a property or to just impose blight fees upon them.

The next meeting is May 18.

 
 
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