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MIDDLETON — Middleton City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday night that puts a salary cap on the city’s mayoral position at $52,000, a significant raise from the budgeted part-time salary of $18,000 — but that number could go down when the city approves its final budget plan Aug. 21.

About 30 Middleton residents turned out for the lengthy, emotional meeting. Before comment opened, Mayor Darin Taylor outlined his reasoning, saying he has worked “long and hard” for a year and a half to lead the city and believes significant improvements have been made in several areas of city government.

“I feel like I’ve been performing in (a full-time) manner, and the city of Middleton has been the benefit,” Taylor said. “A majority of the residents of Middleton have benefited from my service in that manner.”

In addition to his duties as mayor, Taylor said he has taken on the role of city planner and public works director after those two positions were vacated. The jobs were left empty in the interest of saving money for the city, but he stepped in to fulfill those roles.

He added if the council were to approach him on the street and ask to hire him after describing all of the duties he is currently performing, he would value the commensurate salary at $75,000. But because that would not be in the best interest of the city, a lower number would make more sense.

About 10 people commented during the hearing, and most were in favor of giving the mayor a raise of some sort, but against allowing him to perform all three positions. Ex-mayor Frank McKeever said it was a conflict of interest for Taylor to be city planner and argued the mayor knew what he was getting.

“You knew what the mayor got paid when you were elected 18 months ago and you gladly accepted the job and the pay at that time,” McKeever said.

He also argued Taylor was disingenuous when scheduling the meeting, as it was originally set to go before the public Aug. 21. The mayor mailed out spreadsheets to residents detailing pay scales and informing people when the hearings would take place, but the council realized that would conflict with final budget approval. The agenda was amended with short notice.

The council noted other areas of the budget would be cut or moved to avoid raising taxes to pay for the salary change. All three agreed they did not want Taylor running the public works department, but said he has the necessary qualifications to keep overseeing planning and zoning decisions.

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