WESTMINSTER — For his services, Mayor W. Benjamin Brown receives not only a $10,000 yearly salary but also health coverage and a pension plan.
City Council members, however, receive an annual salary ($3,000 for the president and $2,400 for the other members) but neither health nor retirement benefits.
It's a disparity the council has decided to address.
The council directed the staff Monday to determine the cost of providing similar benefits to the panel's five members. The benefits could be included in the city's budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
"We're not taking anything away from the mayor," said Council President William F. Haifley.
Council's effort, he said, is to provide equal benefits for all elected officials.
The disparity was disclosed by the council's Finance Committee during its review of the mayor's request for additional compensation for elected officials. The council has declined to raise those salaries.
Haifley said city mayors began receiving retirement and health benefits "sometime in the past." Brown's predecessor, LeRoy Conaway, also received the fringe benefits, officials said.
"Nobody seems to know how it got started or who approved it," Haifley said.
Stephen V. Dutterer, the city'sfinance director, said the mayor receives the same pension and health benefits as other city employees.
As a member of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension Systems, the city contributes 6.94 percentof the mayor's annual salary, or $694, to his retirement plan, Dutterer said.
If council members are enrolled in the retirement plan, the city will pay about $208 a year for the council president and $167 for each of the other members, Dutterer said.
The city is a member of the Local Government Health Insurance Benefits Trust, which provides comprehensive medical coverage for municipal employees and elected officials.
Family coverage, to which the mayor subscribes, is about $3,000 a year, Dutterer said. Individual coverage costs about $1,200.
"That's the costly end of it -- family coverage," Dutterer said. "You're looking at a sizable amount of money. The mayor has always had benefits. These are not new benefits. They're new benefits for the council."
The Taneytown City Council and mayor are eligible to receive health coverage through the same group, said City Clerk Linda Hess. Only the mayor, an independent businessman, subscribes to the health coverage plan, she said.
The plan, she said, is the sameas is used by other city employees.
Neither the council nor the mayor receive retirement benefits, she said.
Manchester's Town Council and mayor do not receive retirement or health benefits, said Kathryn L. Riley, town clerk.