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Virginia mayor and City Council: Give us a pay cut or give us jail time

The Virginia, Minn., mayor and City Council had voted itself a pay cut earlier this month, but then they realized that state law might not allow it.

Well, the heck with that, the city officials said this week.

“If they want to put us in handcuffs for breaking an archaic state law, then so be it,” Mayor Steve Peterson told the Mesabi Daily News. “I’m sticking with it. There may be some state statute out there ... but let the chips fall where they may. It would be foolish to cash the checks and then bring some of it back to the city.”

The Virginia mayor and councilors wanted take a 10 percent cut in salary to help with the city’s budget hole that will be deep because of upcoming significant cuts in Local Government Aid. But a state statute says elected officials cannot “change” their pay until after the next election. And if “change” is taken literally, that means either an increase or decrease in pay.

They're going to do it anyway. City Clerk/Finance Director Ron Lackner was directed to take the 10 percent off of the gross. The mayor makes $500 a month, councilors $300. The savings to the city will be $2,760 for 2009.

“If the attorney general makes a stink, then we’ll challenge it in court,” Peterson said.

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