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Lynn Donches Opposes Borough Council Raises

Emmaus Borough resident and East Penn School Board member Lynn Donches addresses Borough Council at Monday night’s meeting to ask council to vote against council member pay raises.

It was a tiny three-word item near the back of Monday night’s Emmaus Borough Council meeting agenda that motivated borough resident Lynn Donches to address council Monday night – “Council Pay Increases.”

Nonetheless, Donches, who is also an East Penn School Board member, had a lot to say about those three words, asking council to vote against the proposed pay raise that, if approved, will amount to a $600- per-year raise for each council member.

The raises would take effect in 2014.

“At a time when municipalities are struggling to balance budgets,” Donches told council during the public comment portion of the meeting, “I ask you to vote against the increase and instead apply that money to another line item that is a need, not a want.”

Donches, who lives at 559 Minor St., also referenced another item on the agenda – a proposal to eliminate one council meeting per month for June, July and August 2013 – stating that if council votes to drop the three meetings, it is in effect approving a pay increase anyhow.

Donches told council that she understands how hard the members work and how much time it takes to prepare for each meeting but still was beseeching the group to either vote against the raise or “put it to a referendum and let the voters decide.

“You volunteered for this,” Donches said. “Public service is just that, a service.”

Councilman Brian Holtzhafer, who heads council’s Budget and Finance committee, told Donches before she left the podium that the proposed pay raises would go into effect in 2014 and would not the 2013 budget.

Council members currently earn $2,001 per year and the council president earns $2,401 per year. The 2014 raise, if approved, would raise the annual salaries to $2,601 for members and $3,001 for the council president.

Council did not act on the proposed pay increases but approved the elimination of the first council meeting of the month for June, July and August 2013 by a 7-0 vote.

After the meeting, Holtzhafer said there was never any intention to vote on the pay increase Monday night. It was on the agenda because it had been discussed during a Budget and Finance committee meeting but any such raise would have to be enacted via ordinance and that would happen at a later time.

Patrick Ferry November 20, 2012 at 03:58 PM
A pay increase, which will eventually lead to a tax increase. Are council members in it for the money, which I know is minimal, or to help their community? I haven't gotten a raise in over 3 years but my taxes and my insurance co-pay have increased. Government along with teachers salaries should be be frozen like ours have been.
John Reynard November 21, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Its not a good time to propose a significant pay increase for Borough Council. I'd think members would know this looks bad even if the raises are justified based on the amount of time spent doing borough business.
matt November 21, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Where does Lynn get the audacity to speak with truth and common sense? That has NO business at an Emmaus council meeting!
matt November 21, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Why are comments for this story "pending approval"? Does Jenae Holtzhafer have to check to see if we're bashing her husband who happens to be on the Board??
Jennifer Marangos (Editor) November 21, 2012 at 03:18 PM
@Matt...I JUST fixed the settings on this article to allow comments to be automatically approved, as is typically the case with Patch articles that I write. I can offer two possible answers to your question about the comments and you may choose whichever you like best...1. Editors make mistakes and sometimes click off the wrong tiny check box when working late at night. 2. Computers make mistakes and sometimes default to the wrong settings. Both have happened in the past, both will likely happen again in the future. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused to you.
matt November 21, 2012 at 03:21 PM
thanks for being on top of things jennifer!
MS November 21, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Personal opinion....If your taking a meeting away....your basically telling the community that the council won't meet as often but were giving them a raise.....less work (not really, but on paper) more pay....I think that's an issue....I would love a pay raise...but I have to think of the needs of my business right now, and that means no pay raise. I also think, maybe the two issues shouldn't have been brought up on the same night...I think if the pay raise would have come up you might have gotten past it if you hadn't also said we want to eliminate one meeting a year...
MS November 21, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Jenae and Brian are very good people....some of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of getting to know the past year through the Fresh Air Fund....She has nothing to do with how opinions are posted.......
Jenae Holtzhafer November 21, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Thanks Missy. I am a freelancer for Patch. I have nothing to do with what is posted, so I appreciate your kind words in my defense. It's hard to be involved in the community and not have people look to attack. It's a sad thing, and probably the reason why many people choose not to get involved. You sure need to build a tough skin, and I'm not sure I've got it yet! :)
Giovanni Landi November 21, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Those are very good points Missy. I would just like to correct the number of meetings eliminated. I believe 3 meetings were eliminated, not just one. The first meeting for the months of June, July, and August.
Larry Delhagen November 22, 2012 at 02:28 PM
A number of the organizations I belong to go dark for the month of August, and several for July and August, so eliminating 1 from a schedule of numerous monthly meetings between the months of June and August here does not seem outrageous. You have to wonder how many council members miss at least one of those meetings anyway due to vacation. In any event, it's not like their assignments and responsibilities are likely to go unfulfilled. They will just get it done at the other meetings. And at the level of stipend we pay these folks (for the hours they put in), I would hardly call this a pay increase. More like an abuse decrease.
Ron Beitler November 23, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Lower Macungie Township Commissioners make 4,125.00 each.
MS November 25, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Yes Ron, but lets not forget the commission they make on the properties they sell as commercial real estate moguls when they approve land developments that they will then sell ..... Just sayin'

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