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Herndon Town Council may roll back first pay increase in 15 years for now

Town of Herndon government offices (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The topic of pay for the Herndon Town Council is on the legislative body’s docket again.

After instituting the first pay increase in nearly 15 years for the 2023-2024 term, the council is considering the possibility of reducing pay to previous levels.

The move, pitched by Vice Mayor Clark Hedrick, is in response to fiscal constraints and the current economic climate. The discussion is in the early phases of the legislative process.

“The Town of Herndon is facing continued challenges in maintaining its labor force, which could, in part be addressed through retention bonuses, incentives for prospective employees, higher cost-of-living adjustments, and base pay increases,” meeting materials said.

The memo also flags “significant revenue uncertainty” rooted in the COVID-19 pandemic to the town’s tax revenue streams. Specifically, the proposal cites rising energy costs, record-high inflation and the increase of tax bills across the town.

The proposal would put council pay at $4,000 for council members and $6,000 for the mayor through Jan. 1, 2025. After that, pay would return to $15,000 per year for the mayor and $10,000 per year for council members, according to the proposal.

Hedrick argues that the proposal would not significantly impact the quality of candidates that run for open seats.

“The Council is made of up public servants and recent Town elections have seen no shortage of qualified candidates seeking the office of either mayor or council member,” the memo says.

Before pay increases went into effect this year, the council was among the lowest paid bodies across local jurisdictions — even those that are somewhat smaller than the town’s population of roughly 24,300 people.

Before the salary increases approved last year, council members were paid $4,000 per year — a little over $6,000 below the average of jurisdictions in Virginia. The mayor received $6,000 per year — also $6,000 less than the state average.

In comparison, the City of Fairfax — which has a comparable population of 24,000 — pays $12,000 a year to council members and $13,000 for the mayoral position, according to town materials.

Legislators in the City of Manassas have the highest pay — $15,579 for council members and $20,000 for mayor — although the city’s population stands at more than 41,000.

Hedricks did not return a request for comment from FFXnow. The council is expected to discuss the matter at a meeting tonight (Tuesday).

Mayor Sheila Olem cast the lone dissenting vote against last year’s proposal to increase council pay, calling the plan too big of a raise.

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