WAXHAW –Town commissioners’ workloads have been slightly altered, but their stipends will remain the same.
The surface-level and behind-the-scenes work of the board was discussed at its Feb. 11 meeting after motions were passed to create an organization advisory board and rescind the board’s liaison policy.
The creation of the organization advisory board will relieve the staff of the responsibility of recruiting qualified applicants for various committees.
Commissioner Anne Simpson said while the board would make the final decision of who to appoint, the organization advisory board would provide another layer of vetting and screening candidates, as it would meet with the candidates and provide them with a better understanding of the role before meeting the board of commissioners.
Meanwhile, the decision to rescind the board liaison policy, in the majority of commissioners’ opinions, will allow the town’s committees to feel less intimidated by the presence of board members at their meetings. Commissioners still have the opportunity to attend the meetings, as they are open to the public, but they will do so on a voluntary basis.
With the seemingly reduced responsibilities, Commissioner Kat Lee motioned to reduce commissioners’ stipends to reflect the new workload.
“Given the fact that we have just reduced the workload to this board by, my back of the napkin math says 20%, I make a motion that we reduce the elected officials’ stipend by a commissionary 20%,” Lee said.
Mayor Pro Tem Brenda McMillon immediately took issue with Lee’s suggestion, stating the board still has increased responsibilities, like overseeing the other committees. She said the board is still meeting, still working and still traveling to attend various events around the town for businesses and organizations.
“We still have additional workload and additional responsibility and things that are coming up that we are working on that are not reducing our workload,” McMillon said. “That 20% that you’re talking about can be increased by another 40% or 50% on top of what we are doing right now that isn’t clocked.”
Commissioner Tracy Wesolek agreed with McMillon, citing the time commitment the board has made to conduct its search for a new town manager. Wesolek said she’s had to take time off from her day job to attend meetings related to the search, which she estimates has increased her time commitment by 20%.
The search for a town manager is some of the behind-the-scenes work the board does, according to McMillon. McMillon said board members are working with the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Centralina Council of Governments, the North Carolina League of Municipalities and other organizations on the town’s behalf.
“We have a lot of people who are doing outside things for the Town of Waxhaw that may not be clocked, that maybe some of the people sitting here or who are online do not see, but we are working behind the scenes and we are doing it on a daily basis,” McMillon said.
Mayor Ron Pappas joined the conversation before the vote, stating that though he does not see his position as one with an hourly rate, he spends a significant amount of time and effort fulfilling his responsibilities as an elected official.
“It does include a great deal of my time, and a great deal of time and effort in connecting and communicating with the community, with the board of commissioners, with other leadership in the town,” Pappas said. “I would say that this is going to be able to free us up to spend even more time and more effective time on our use to bring forward the things that we need to bring forward and not be mired down in the work that somebody else should do.”
Lee was the only one to vote in favor of the motion, with all other commissioners in opposition.