Updated: Ross targets mayor’s perkSuperior mayors have had a luxury not afforded many others across the state and Mayor Dave Ross said it’s time to end the taxpayer-funded ride – literally.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Superior mayors have had a luxury not afforded many others across the state and Mayor Dave Ross said it’s time to end the taxpayer-funded ride – literally.
Ross plans to propose eliminating the mayor’s car when the council meets next week. After all, if he were elected lieutenant governor next year, the state wouldn’t provide him a car for his use.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Council President Dan Olson said of eliminating a designated city-owned vehicle for the mayor’s use. “I think it’s a long time coming.”
“The master plan here is to get rid of the city car” designated for the mayor’s use, Ross said. “It will be a reduction in benefit to me, but I just want the car gone.”
Councilor Ed Anderson said he isn't certain the council will be able to change the mayor's compensation during his term, however. The mayor's compensation is set by city ordinance and state law requires that to be established prior to the election, Anderson said.
The next mayoral election won't take place until 2011.
After all, the mayor said, driving the city-owned car can have it’s pitfalls.
Councilor Warren Bender questioned whether a city the size of Superior needed to provide a vehicle for its mayor.
“Mayor [Richard] Daly of Chicago has a car and a driver,” Bender said. “Of course, in a city like that, you would expect something like that.”
However, Superior’s population of 26,223 according to 2008 U.S. Census estimates is significantly fewer people than Chicago’s nearly 2.9 million people that year.
Bender said he also appreciates the dilemma the car presents when anyone is campaigning for the office.
State law doesn’t allow candidates to use government resources when to campaign for office.
When Ross had time between city events and official functions of his office, he would have to drive home and walk or take a personal vehicle to knock on doors and meet with his constituency in 2007.
And, it’s a problem that presented itself last year when an official meeting in Green Bay preceded campaign events in the southeast part of the state. Ross used his personal vehicle for the city-sponsored trip to Green Bay so he could meet obligations in his campaign for lieutenant governor.
With the mayor’s bid for state office, getting rid of the city car would certainly ensure that division is clean, Olson said.
Under the proposal to eliminate the designated vehicle for the mayor’s use, Ross said he will instead seek a monthly allowance to use his personal vehicle for city business. Ross is proposing a $400 monthly allowance, similar to the one given to Duluth Mayor Don Ness.
Ross would then bear all cost associated with his personal vehicle.
“He’s going to insure it; he’s going to do the maintenance on it, so yeah, it’s going to save there,” Olson said.
The move would save taxpayers just under $250 per month based on conservative estimates of what it costs to operate the city-owned car Ross currently drives if the council approves the $400 stipend.
It currently costs about $646 monthly including the cost of the vehicle spread out over five years, fuel, maintenance and insurance to provide the mayor a vehicle.
“The city of Superior has been very generous with the car, I have to admit,” Ross said.