Aldermen set elected marshal’s salary for next term

Dave Marner

When Owensville voters next April select a city marshal to oversee its police department, that person will receive a pay increase over the current rate and another mid-way through their 4-year term.

Aldermen on Nov. 20 approved an initial increase in the elected marshal’s pay from the current rate of $47,500 to $50,000 and a step increase during the third year which will bring the salary up to $52,500 for the final two years of the term. Aldermen are scheduled at approve the increase by ordinance when they reconvene on Monday, Dec. 4. The new rate will go into effect following the April 3, 2018, Municipal Election. 

Aldermen were reminded by their city administrator that state statute specify how compensation for elected marshals is established. Compensation is set by ordinance and shall not be changed during  the term of election or appointment.

Aldermen had a lengthy discussion on how they wanted the pay to increase and what they thought the salary for the elected position was worth.

“I want to do the step, not front-loaded,” said Rob Borgmann, president of the board. “I definitely want that in the ordinance.”

Denise Bohl from Ward 2 suggested “mine’s 50 (thousand) in the end.”

Karl Buck, a Ward 1 representative who joined the board back in April, suggested a salary of $54,000 with two step increases “based on the actual value it’s worth” citing their current marshal’s experience.

“He’s definitely worth more than we are paying now,” said Buck.

Buck suggest the salary be increased from the current rate of $47,500 annually to “almost $55,000.”

Robert Rickerd is currently completing his fourth term as elected city marshal. The position at one time paid $29,500 per year and was raised to $40,000 after eight years with no increases. The annual rate was increased to $47,500 four years ago prior to the start of his fourth term. 

Mayor John Kamler had noted earlier than a 2 percent increase in the marshal’s salary — similar to city raises awarded during the current budget year — would bring that starting figure up to $48,450.

“I don’t know if it’s fair but it’s at least an attempt to be fair,” added Buck.

“We’re all in agreement it has to be more,” said Bohl.

“Are we all in agreement it will be a step plan?” asked Borgmann.

From the high of $54,000 to the nearly $55,000 suggested by Buck, aldermen settled for an ending salary at the figure Bohl tossed out. 

“I’m just throwing a number out there,” said Bohl who suggested $52,500.

Buck noted again he thought it should be closed to $55,000.

Cathy Lahmeyer of Ward 1 noted a 10-percent increase over the 4-year term would average out to a 2.5 percent increase annually. Borgmann seemed to like the ending number. Kamler noted there would be an increase of $2,500 annually “right off the bat.”

Then the conversation took a turn slightly off track.

“What if a new chief comes on board?” asked Borgmann.

Other board members wondered what other cities of similar size to Owensville were planning on doing.

Nathan Schauf, their administrator, had provided the board with current salary ranges of 14 smaller, comparable and larger population fourth-class cities with elected marshals. Without contacting each city, Schauf told the board, there was no way of knowing what their intentions were on salary increases.

The list he provided also included salary ranges for eight municipalities with appointed police chiefs. Seven of those were from fourth-class cities or counties and one, St. James, was from a third-class community.

Owensville’s current salary of $47,500 was right between Versailles (population 2,482, $47,476) and Monroe City (pop. 2,531, $48,000). Knob Noster, with a population of 2,709, pays its marshal $50,741.

The city of Belle, population 1,545, currently pays its marshal $34,471. Eldon (pop. 4,567) and Tipton (pop. 3,262) both pay their  elected marshals $43,000. Pacific ($59,850), Cuba ($60,000) and St. Clair ($62,430) were also included in the comparison.

St. Clair was a community Shauf said he knew of which used the step increases.

For area communities with non-elected chiefs, Linn pays $41,000, Bourbon pays $44,720, New Haven pas $50,000 and Hermann pays $55,000.

Buck told his fellow aldermen he “knows the current chief’s value” and worried “we’ve done the people an injustice” if someone is elected who does not have the qualifications to become marshal or is “under-qualified.”

Rickerd had noted earlier, when asked about qualifications for an elected marshal in a fourth-class city, that state statutes mandate a person had one year from the date of their election to become POST-certified (Peace Officer Standards and Training).

Asked if he was planning to run for a fifth term, he indicated he was. “I just think whoever gets elected n April, a raise would be good,” said Rickerd, adding, “elections are elections.”

At least one candidate with extensive police experience has already declared his intention to seek the position. Scott Eiler, a deputy sergeant with the Gasconade County Sheriff’s patrol, announced in July he would run for marshal.

In the end, aldermen agreed with the new term ending with a salary of $52,500 which will take effect in the third year. The first two years of the 4-year term will carry a $50,000 salary. 

The filing period opens Tuesday, Dec.  12, and closes Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.