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(Nov. 25, 2022) Although a big pay increase for Ocean City’s mayor and City Council will be the probable result of a unanimous council vote Monday, the ordinance the council passed on first reading without discussion was not an instance of the council attempting to give itself a raise.

From a legal standpoint, the council’s 6-0 vote, with Councilman John Gehrig absent, acted on the instructions of the electorate, which in the Nov. 8 election approved a city code amendment establishing a new mayor council pay scale.

The size of the pay increases resort voters approved by a 60 percent margin — from $10,000 to $20,000 for council members, $11,000 to $23,000 for the council president, and $30,000 to $50,000 for the mayor — reflected how long it’s been since those salaries were last adjusted.

That last time the mayor and council’s pay was brought up to the standards of the time was 1989, when a dollar was the equivalent to $2.31 today.

As it is, the City Council is prohibited from giving itself or the mayor a raise while they are serving, but they can propose or enact legislation that would increase the pay of the officials in office following an election. In this instance, the council agreed the best course was to propose the salary changes to the voters.

The measure must still pass a second reading before it can become effective.

In other pay-related matters during a brisk session of a little more than a half-hour, the council approved new hourly rates for seasonal bus drivers — $20.50 for a new driver, and $21 for a returning driver — as well as a new rate of $15.91 for tram drivers and $15.45 for tram conductors. Better end-of-season and employee referral bonuses for seasonal transportation employees were also approved.

The moves were a manifestation of the council’s effort to hire and retain seasonal drivers when applications for these jobs are not flowing in as they once did.

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