IDA chairman wants compensation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 11, 2002

Planning commissioners in Suffolk receive $200 per meeting.

Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority members also are paid for their service.

Now, the Rev. Isaac Baker, vice chairman of the city’s Industrial Development Authority, says he hopes that City Council will consider paying the IDA’s seven members.

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&uot;Our time is not any more or less valuable than anyone else’s,&uot; said Baker. &uot;I would like to see us compensated for the time and effort we put in.&uot;

Baker estimated that he usually spends six to eight hours a month on IDA business.

Besides attending the monthly meetings – as well as any special call meetings that come up – IDA members spend time reviewing minutes of previous meetings, financial statements, and other information needed to make informed decisions that will shape the city’s economic future.

Early this spring, Baker proposed that IDA members talk to their respective council members about compensation. His recommendation was for $150 per meeting; under state code, $200 is the maximum a board member can receive.

Any council member who wants to pursue the issue can have it put on the council’s agenda, said Steve Herbert, assistant city manager for development.

Mayor Dana E. Dickens III said he wasn’t aware that the proposal had come up for discussion by the IDA. He said he didn’t have enough information to make additional comments.

Paying IDA members is not an uncommon practice in Hampton Roads.

Authority members in Hampton, Newport News and Chesapeake each receive $50 per meeting, said Lynn Bartlett, a spokesman for the city’s economic development department. But representatives of the Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Norfolk IDA’s are not compensated.

IDA member Mills March is adamantly opposed to being compensated for his service.

&uot;I am not in favor of it,&uot; said March. &uot;When I took the job, I didn’t expect any compensation and I don’t expect it now.

&uot;The people I see when I look around this room are business people. I don’t think they need any more money.&uot;

The maximum compensation allowed by the state – $200 per meeting – may not sound like much, March said. But paying Suffolk IDA members to attend the one regular monthly meeting will cost taxpayers approximately $17,000 annually, he said.

&uot;It adds up,&uot; March said. &uot;The spending has to stop somewhere.&uot;

Like several IDA members, Stuart Tyler said that being paid for his service isn’t important to him.

&uot;I’m neutral,&uot; Tyler said. &uot;I’m not opposed to compensation.

&uot;I think it’s an honor to be chosen to serve on the commission,&uot; he continued. &uot;If the council decides to pay us for service, I would be grateful … and would give the money back to the community in some charitable way.

&uot;And if the council decides not to pay us, I’ll still continue to serve and give 110 percent.&uot;

Efforts to reach other IDA members Thursday were unsuccessful.