City Council: Chance for a raise?

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On Jan. 7, City Council will hear a proposal that might please the nine members — especially those who will continue in office after April 15, when a newly elected Council will be sworn in.

A group of community leaders and media heavyweights (apparently including both Independent publisher John Weiss and Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen) will submit a proposed charter amendment to Council that would, if put on the ballot and approved by voters in the April election, increase their pay from $6,250 annually to a sum equal to 44 percent of the mayor’s salary, effective in April 2015.

Mayor Steve Bach now makes $96,000 annually, so councilors would see their annual compensation increase 675 percent to $42,240 a year.

For the issue to be placed on the ballot, five councilors will have to approve it.

Based on public statements by current council members during the past two years, it seems likely that measure will be referred to the voters without dissent.

According to a preliminary draft of the proposal, the city and Colorado Springs Utilities would each pay half of the annual salary tab. If CSU ceases to be governed by the Colorado Springs City Council, then the city would be responsible for the full amount.

A particularly ambiguous section of the amendment states that “Service as a councilmember shall not prohibit the councilmember from part-time employment or engaging in an occupation in addition to service as a councilmember …” It leaves open the distinction between “full-time” and “part-time” employment, and is silent on the issue of who would decide the matter, if anyone.

Most municipalities with populations above 400,000 and a mayor-council form of government pay council members. In Denver, the council president is paid $87,539 annually and council members are paid $78,173. All 13 council members in Denver are elected from districts, and each has a staffed office in his or her district.

Colorado Springs voters have turned down several previous measures that would have increased council pay. Supporters of the 2010 “Strong Mayor” amendment considered including council pay in the amendment, but concluded that doing so would violate the city’s “single subject” ordinance.

Absent the sudden reappearance of the strangely low-profile Douglas Bruce, it seems unlikely that the proposed amendment will have any organized, well-funded opposition. And it may well encourage more candidates to run for the six council seats that will be in play in the April election.

5 Responses to City Council: Chance for a raise?

  1. My understanding is that, when done right, these men and women work 30-40 hours per week. If that’s truly what we’d be getting out of them then I could support the measure.

    Hunter Willis
    December 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm

  2. Not one council member has ever done anything in the best interest of the poorer residents of this city. They lie about the SDS,Helicorp, fracking,taxes always going up.Plus they come from money. We don’t need to pay these clowns a damn dime.Hell I believe the city payroll already exceeds 60,000,000+ not counting retirees. In the last twenty years our town has not seen or get close to being in the black,who’s to blame?the city council. they hide important news data thats important to the residents of C.S. they also cover up guilty employees (they know who) and then fire the people that can exspose them. The Mayor fired a few of them. And we want to pay these dishonest elected officals. Then they let all these departments hire within,so as not to hire someone that would be appauled at the way our city does things. We sure didn’t go far to find a police chief. Didn’t want the other canidates to see how corrupt our police really are. They try to get around by not letting residents vote on important matters like SDS.Pulling that stormwater stunt on the ratepayers. Talking about corruption. That not even close to what dirty underhanded deeds are going to come out of there mouth. I’m sure it won’t be the truth.

    ekim tuoraey
    December 27, 2012 at 7:39 pm

  3. I will NOT submit a proposal about this to City Council and have never even discussed it or considered it. I will not co-sponsor a proposal or have any official attachment to it whatsoever. I merely spoke with John Weiss about his proposed ballot measure in a meeting with three other Gazette associates. I told Mr. Weiss I like most of his idea (as I have issues with our volunteer political process) and would bring it to the full editorial board of The Gazette to determine whether we could support it with a Gazette editorial. I am one member of The Gazette’s 6-member editorial board. While I have some influence on other members, I do not speak for any other member and cannot make decisions unilaterally for the board. We have not met to discuss this topic. Furthermore, as a working member of the local press corps, I doubt I will ever propose formal legislation to the City Council. My official role in a local-government policy matter is to express the position of a majority on the board, in writing, after it has voted.

    Wayne Laugesen
    December 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

  4. Ekim, that is exactly why we should raise the pay! Because most normal people can’t live off of $6,250 a year, many great, qualified, honest people do not run. By giving the position a full-time pay, it creates a much deeper candidate pool to choose from, so you are not stuck with the same old “clowns” who “come from money.”

    Matt Devine
    December 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm

  5. Matt is right, I have said this for a long time. If you want serious cadidates you must pay them! I beleive more business owners could run for council if they could subsidise their incomes and pay one of their people a little more to take on more responsibility. I always thought you must pay these people at least $50,000 a year or more, they steer the direction of your community, they make difficult fiscal decisions. We are paying Atteberry $200,00 a year and he is terrible! I would vote for this, if you do not like what is going on in our city government, then you must make changes. Their positions are too important, we pay out millions to city employees every year, council makes almost all of the final decisions on important issues. I aslo think we must have the term limits be final, no soft term limits. You serve your two terms and you are done for good!

    Todd Heenan
    January 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm