Tioga—The Tioga City Commission voted 3-2 Monday night to increase Economic Development Committee (EDC) Consultant Dennis Lindahl’s salary from $60,000 to $70,000 per year.
The approval occurred after much discussion among the commissioners, and only after the proposed raise was reduced from $20,000 to $10,000 per year. Commissioners voted 2-2 on that motion with Tim Christianson and Jessica Steele in favor and Shawn Travis and Larry Maize voting against the proposition. Travis said, “I have to answer to the people.”
Commission president Natalie Bugbee broke the tie by voting for the reduced salary increase, and Lindahl accepted the new offer.
The originally proposed 33% increase brought an unusually large crowd to the meeting, and a number of them approached the podium to provide their opinions on the matter.
Tioga resident Jack Weber and other Tiogans spoke their concerns about having a quantitative way to measure Lindahl’s work. Weber asked, “Is there any accountability for the hours he puts in? What does he do?” Tiogan Jody Weflen asked, “Has any value been added [for the raise]?”
Other Tiogans spoke on behalf of Lindahl. Ryan Tappenden said, “The EDC has open meetings. He may deserve more than this raise for all the stuff he brings into the community.”
“We often hear people complain on the street, but they don’t attend meetings, so thank you.” Natalie Bugbee, Tioga City Commission President
President Bugbee thanked the larger-than-usual crowd for coming. “We often hear people complain on the street, but they don’t attend meetings, so thank you.”
EDC President Chris Norgaard discussed the need Tioga has for a person in this position. He urged the commission to keep an open mind and be forward thinking.
Tioga’s City Auditor, Abby Salinas, explained to the assembly that the commission, whose members are voted into position by taxpayers, is independent of the EDC, whose board is appointed. Lindahl answers to the EDC board. The EDC Consultant’s salary is paid through the Tioga Fund, which is overseen by the commission.
Lindahl himself conveyed he is not asking for more money with no return. His added responsibilities will include supervising a program for drone training and classes for general aviation pilot licensing.
In a follow-up interview, Lindahl explained his choice to live in Stanley instead of Tioga, which is at times a point of contention between Lindahl and the Tioga community. “It’s a little bit difficult to take the risk to move to a community when you have to advocate for your position every year. It’s a little bit higher risk than I might be comfortable with.”
In response to the split decision on his raise, Lindahl said, “I felt like adding the additional responsibilities justified the amount I asked for, so obviously I’m a little bit disappointed.”