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Vote coming for pay raises for Bellevue mayor, city council

Posted at 10:10 PM, Jul 01, 2019

BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — It's been decades since elected officials in Bellevue have gotten a pay bump and after unsuccessfully trying last year, they're at it again, hoping to pass a raise for themselves tomorrow night.

"I know you do put in a lot of hours and there's a big commitment. So really, you're down to minimum wage if you really want to figure your hours in a lot of these cases,” says Mayor of Bellevue Rusty Hike.

Mayor Hike says him and the six city council members put in around 20 hours a week each working for the city and that the $11,000 a year the city council makes and the $17,000 the mayor makes isn't quite enough.

That's why he's in favor of them increasing their pay by $6,000 a-year. Council-member Pat Shannon says over the phone, it'll allow for the best candidates to run for office in the future.

Hike agrees.

"It is very obvious that a lot of people aren't running for office, I don't know if they don't want what it takes, or the criticism, or if it's the pay, or probably a combination of all,” says Hike.

The move could face criticism. It's had a series of financial issues in the past, including fire department funding and now is dealing with the demolition of hundreds of homes due to the flood, that the city will foot the bill for, at least initially.

"I've never been so much about the right time, that's just being political, if you're waiting for a right time, I don't know if a right time ever comes,” says Hike.

While the city of Omaha pays it's part-time council members much more at $38,000 a year.

Other similar size cities are close to Bellevue, with Papillion currently paying their council just over $12,000 annually and the mayor, just north of $25,000. And Grand Island, paying less, with their mayor getting $16,000, and their council $7,800.

One Bellevue residents thinks they deserve the pay bump.

"Obviously 11,000 thousand is not very much money for city officials that are supposed to be working hard for our city and to reimburse them a little bit for the work they're doing,” says John Dean, a Bellevue resident.

If it passes, it would go into effect December of 2020 and add $42,000 to the city budget of about $70 million, with recent annexations, Mayor Hike says they can afford the extra pay.

Whether it will pass Tuesday is a mystery. Raises were denied last year on a 4-2 vote. The council has since changed, but two of the members who voted against it, Thomas Burns and Paul Cook, are still on city council.

They did not respond to calls and texts from 3 News Now on Monday.