Commissioners delay vote on salary hikes
By Dan Sleva
Stowe commissioners delayed a vote to more than double their annual salaries during a Tuesday night township meeting held on May 10.
While the salary hike was listed on both the Monday workshop meeting and Tuesday voting meeting agendas, the issue was quickly disavowed when a member of the audience called attention to it during the public comment session.
“We are not dealing with that today,” Commissioner Kelly Cropper-Hall said.
President Robin Parilla then added without further explanation, “We are delaying that to the first of the year.”
If passed, the item would have raised commissioner pay to $4,190 per year or $349.16 per month. This is the maximum allowed for a first-class township with a population of between 5,000 and 10,000 people. Stowe has around 6,400 residents. Currently, the salary of a commissioner is $2,000 per year.
Revisions to Pennsylvania’s First Class Township Code went into effect in December 2020 after a multi-year revision process in the state legislature. The code raised the maximum permitted salary for township commissioners. While the code sets a maximum, local commissioners set the actual rate of pay.
The scales are based on population. Maximum salaries vary from $3,145 for a township with less than 5,000 residents to a maximum of $8,385 per year for the largest first-class townships with between 35,000 and 40,000 residents.
Of note, pay increases cannot be voted on in an election year and Stowe Township has three seats that will be available next year.
When it came time to vote on new business, Parilla asked for a motion to approve “all items excluding C,” which was the agenda item to raise commissioner pay.
According to code, the new salary would go into effect as commissioners are elected or reelected and sworn in. If put back on the agenda as stated, this would more than double the township’s current expenditure on commissioner compensation, from $10,000 to $20,950.
If passed, the commissioners would be paid more than commissioners from other, larger local areas.
In Robinson Township, which has a population of around 15,500, the five commissioners currently make $812 per quarter or $3,250 per year. That is well beneath the maximum of $6,915 that the code allows for a township of its size.
“To my knowledge, there is no plan to increase it,” said Neel Cherukuri, Robinson’s payroll coordinator.
McKees Rocks, with a population of around 5,800, is incorporated as a borough and operates under a different code. It pays its council members $1,992 per year.
Moon, a second-class township with about 27,000 residents, pays its supervisors $4,100 annually. That is slightly below the maximum allowed by the state code that governs townships of its size.
In Ingram, the members of council forgo a salary altogether.
“When I got here 27 years ago, that is how it was and we haven’t changed it,” said President Sam Nucci. “It does save the community that expense and frees up money for other things.”
In other Stowe business, the board voted to hire a deputy ordinance officer tasked with monitoring municipal waste. He will be paid $15 per hour and work 25 hours per week. An administrative assistant for the police department was hired at $21 per hour for a 35-hour workweek, as well.