The ordinance on the increase in the salaries of the councilors passes by 5 votes against 1 | Local News

SHERIDAN — A long-discussed increase in councilor salaries passed first reading by council on Monday with a 5-1 vote.

Kristen Jennings was the only councilor to vote against an ordinance that would raise councilors’ salaries from $500 to $1,000 a month, while Mayor Rich Bridger was absent from the meeting. If the order passes third reading, it will be the first time councilors’ salaries have been increased in more than 20 years, according to councilor Aaron Linden.

If the ordinance passes, it will come into effect in 2023 for all councilors elected in the 2022 election, according to city administrator Stuart McRae. Linden, Jacob Martin and Clint Beaver are all eligible for re-election this year.

Councilors will need to be elected or re-elected before receiving the pay raise, McRae said. For example, Councilman Steven Brantz, who will be on the ballot in 2024, will not see a salary increase until 2025 after being re-elected in this contest.

Brantz spoke out in favor of the raise, saying it would help the council recruit young councilors with new perspectives who could benefit the city.

“The board shouldn’t just be made up of old men and women who have already retired and just have this as a hobby,” Brantz said. “…We need to encourage young people to get involved in city politics, and many of them have more responsibilities than older people… A little raise in salary would be great because many of them have family obligations…and some of them have to worry about taking time off work (to sit on the board) They either use their vacation time or they don’t get paid for it. is important if we want to attract young people with new ideas to the city council.

Community member Elena Campbell also agreed it was time for councilors to get a raise.

“It’s been a long time since you got a raise…and that doesn’t sound outrageous to me,” Campbell said. “You guys get a lot of abuse. Truly. It’s hard. This local level is where the rubber meets the road, and you really have to sit down with your neighbors when making these decisions. It’s much easier when you work in Washington DC and don’t have to deal with neighbors. So I don’t think a raise is out of place.

Community member John Fafoutakis had a different view.

“I’m not saying you’re not doing your job or anything like that,” Fafoutakis said. “I’m just saying, look at our economic situation. Can we really afford to pay people $1,000 a month?

Jennings was the only councilor to vote against the ordinance and argued that it was not the best use of city dollars at the time.

“The thing is, if you’re called to this job — and it’s a service job — you find a way to make it work,” Jennings said. “I don’t know if the incentive through a salary surplus is the way to (recruit new advisers).”

Beaver argued that the wage increase would be relatively affordable for the city and there would be no additional burden on taxpayers. Linden had previously estimated that the wage increases would cost the city about an additional $18,000 a year.

“The whole board is concerned about our budget situation,” Beaver said. “We’re not wasting a dollar of taxpayers’ money, and I think a lot of my (past) votes would confirm that… If you look at the total amount of the budget… this (increase) is a proverbial straw. So in the context of the overall budget and expenditures within the city government, this is inconsequential.

Salary increases for councilors have been the subject of an ongoing conversation within the council in recent months. The council previously discussed the possibility of increasing council salaries in 2020, but councilors elected to postpone the discussion to a more appropriate time. Linden lobbied for the salary increase ahead of the start of the 2022 election season in hopes of generating a strong pool of potential candidates for city council.

The ordinance will go to second reading at the January 17 council meeting.

William M. Mayer