Easton City Councilman Peter Melan had proposed a salary decrease of 50 percent from $9,371 to $4,686 for council members during a March council meeting, but the legislation was not seconded by any other council member and therefore was not passed.
According to The Morning Call, Easton council members are paid among some of the highest salaries in the area, with Allentown council members being paid $6,162 and Bethlehem council members being paid $7,100.
Melan said his proposal is in response to the council’s Feb. 28 committed increase to the city mayor’s salary over the course of the next five years. The council voted to increase the mayor’s salary by six percent from $86,206 to $91,500 next year.
Melan did not vote in favor of the increase.
“We can only adjust salaries for elected officials every four years,” Melan said.
He said his proposal to cut the salaries of city council members was valid on its merits. However, fellow council members did not agree with Melan.
“I think people expect us to be accountable for the compliance of the city,” he said.
Easton City Councilman David O’Connell, said he didn’t feel council members would need to take a cut to offset for the salary increase for the mayor.
“We are not going to get rich on $9,371 a year,” O’Connell said. “It is not harming the city and is in the budget.”
Sandra Vulcano, an Easton city council member who has been on the council for 16 years, was not in favor of the proposal and felt the council’s salary is adequate.
“I do not think it should be decreased, because I go far and beyond the four meetings a month,” Vulcano said. “I am in the community, I am talking to residents of the city and attending things on economic development committee meetings, along with other things that happen.”
Easton city council members have not had a pay increase in about 10 years, Vulcano said, who voted no to the legislation to decrease salaries.
O’Connell said every other council member agreed with him, feeling that a reduction in salary was not necessary.
Melan is running for re-election in 2019 and was adamant that his proposal was “absolutely not” related to his re-election bid.
O’Connell is also seeking re-election. Melan, O’Connell and Vulcano are all Democrats.
As for the increase that O’Connell supported for Mayor Salvatore J. Panto Jr.’s salary, he said Panto only has two assistants, while the Allentown mayor has five.
“I was not opposed to his raise because I think the mayor earned it,” O’Connell said.
According to lehighvallylive.com, Panto’s salary-per-resident will be $3.19 per resident by 2020, compared to the Allentown mayor’s rate of $.79. Bethlehem pays its mayor $1.20 per resident.