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July 10, 2013 2:27 pm

EDITORIAL: Raise pay for Powell City Council

Written by Tom Lawrence

Raise pay for Powell City Council

As an editorial writer, it’s an easy task to bemoan increased pay for public officials.

At a time when many Americans have seen their compensation stagnate or even decline, the idea of elected officials seeking pay raises doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. Calling them out for asking for more money is a simple task.

But in Powell, we think it’s time the City Council members are paid more, and the very manner in how they are paid should be modified.

Currently, the mayor is paid $13,200 annually. There is no discussion on altering that, although perhaps it should be increased. The mayor has heavy responsibilities, and yet is paid like a part-time worker.

What is under discussion by the council, and will be reviewed Monday night, is a proposal to pay the council members for most meetings they attend as city representatives.

In the past, the council members were paid for attending council meetings, both regular and special gatherings, as well as committee meetings and Wyoming Association of Municipalities (WAM) conferences, among other meetings.

But recently, Mayor Don Hillman and City Attorney Sandra Kitchen studied the city’s ordinance on council compensation and realized the WAM conferences and some other gatherings are not covered. The council members should not be paid for attending them, under this new and apparently accurate reading of the law.

The council members are paid $110 per meeting. That was increased in 2008; prior to that, they were paid $40 per meeting.

With this new understanding of compensation rules, attending a two- or three-day conference would now mean the elected officials would have to use paid leave from their jobs, or just take a hit in the paycheck.

That doesn’t seem one bit fair. The council is right to amend its ordinances to ensure its representatives are fairly compensated for their efforts on behalf of Powell.

But we’d take it step farther. We would stop paying the council per meeting. For one thing, the council members are not making the same money, which seems intrinsically wrong.

If one council member is on five committees, and had several meetings a month, he or she could make a great deal more than a council member who is on one or two committees.

Hillman said he tries to balance it out, but he does favor keeping more experienced officials on committees. However, a mayor with a grudge against a council member could purposefully keep that member’s pay lower than others.

An across-the-board salary seems appropriate. Perhaps $6,000 a year is fair pay; that means each member of the council would be paid $500 per month.

There is little worry that someone would be paid for not working. There is already a rule in place to remove someone from the council if they continually fail to show up for meetings.

In addition to making pay fairer, we think decent compensation might encourage others to run for the council. We would like to see more diversity on the council; currently it is made up exclusively of white men who are primarily middle-aged or seniors.

In Powell’s 104-year history, there has been one female mayor, while 28 men have led the city. The last woman to serve on the council departed almost a decade ago. Like most government boards, older white men, often successful in business or retired, have dominated, and their life experiences and beliefs have shaped how decisions are made.

Perhaps increasing pay would encourage someone who can’t afford to donate a great deal of their time to run for office. It may bring new voices, with new perspectives, to city government. That should be a good thing, in our view.

Paying the council a fair amount can have a positive impact on the community in many ways. Here’s hoping the council takes a closer look at the options it faces, and invests wisely in the men — and hopefully someday soon the women — who set policy for the city.


  • Comment Link July 12, 2013 2:32 am posted by clipstein

    where is common sense? who is responsible for the pool, fiber, plaza taxpayer etc.? have any of the council members offered to pay for mistakes? and those same people tried to destroy ones who disagreed with them. just ask Josh.

  • Comment Link July 13, 2013 11:11 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    They need to actually produce something economically sound before they think about a raise.Or maybe you people just like to poop money off.

  • Comment Link July 13, 2013 10:50 pm posted by Josh Shorb

    Hi Clip
    This Josh Shorb. I would like to talk to you since we never have. Please give me a call at 307-754-1581 at home or on my cell at 307-202-0133.


  • Comment Link July 15, 2013 12:31 pm posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    Oooh boy...that ought to be interesting.

  • Comment Link July 16, 2013 8:20 am posted by clipstein

    Josh it was a decent conversation yesterday. just too bad it could not have happened several years ago...john pung 307 202 1899......

  • Comment Link July 17, 2013 4:43 pm posted by Josh Shorb

    Agreed Clip. I'd like to continue talking in the future, especially when issues arise that you have questions about. You have my number and you can get on the city website and email me. I wish you luck in your new location and don't be a stranger, as I value your opinion. It's refreshing to hear opinions even if we might not see the same vision. Thanks.

  • Comment Link July 19, 2013 4:29 pm posted by c.j.

    Before any raises are considered perhaps employee evaluations are in order. Determine the competency level of each employee first. Then discuss salary increases based upon the results of the evaluation

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