City council pay hike proposal moves forward
Glenwood Springs City Council will formally consider upping the pay and benefits for future council members, in part to help spur more interest for people to run for elected city office.
An ordinance to be voted on in February would increase by $500 per month the current compensation of $500 for council members and $700 for the mayor, who is appointed by the council from among its members.
Under the proposal, council members would also be provided a family membership to the Glenwood Springs Community Center and would be allowed to buy into the city’s employee health insurance plan at their own expense.
The new pay and benefits would not take effect until after the new council is seated following the April 7 city election, in which four of the seven council seats are up for election.
Councilman Todd Leahy offered that, when he joined City Council four years ago, he had no idea how much of a time commitment it would be.
“To do this job well, you do have to put in the time,” said Leahy, who has said he will likely seek re-election to his Ward 3 Council seat this spring.
“I do think a little bit of a raise is in order for that next council, whoever that may be,” Leahy said.
But, as he did during a December work session when the matter was discussed, he cautioned against raising the rate of pay too much.
“I don’t think any of us have done this for the money, and I would hope the main reason is for a passion to serve,” Leahy said.
He and Councilman Mike Gamba, who also plans to seek re-election to his Ward 4 seat, were inclined to make the pay increase $250 per month, rather than $500.
However, council members ultimately agreed to pursue the larger amount, which would come at an increased cost to the city of $42,000 per year.
Councilman Stephen Bershenyi, who is not up for re-election this year, has been the most vocal supporter for a pay increase as an incentive for younger people in particular to run for City Council.
“The pay has not changed in over a decade now … and I see this as one way going forward to help young people see their way clear to come forward,” Bershenyi said.
Outgoing Councilman Dave Sturges, whose at-large seat is open in the upcoming election, offered that not only young people with families, but retirees who have the time to serve might be persuaded to run if the compensation were greater.
Mayor Leo McKinney, who is not up for re-election but whose mayor’s seat could turn over when the new council reorganizes in April, said the community center membership has benefits beyond rewarding council members for their work.
“It does have an impact on those who use the facility to see us there, which shows that we are invested in the city’s facilities and amenities,” McKinney said.
In addition to the Wards 3 and 4 and at-large council seat, the Ward 1 seat held by Ted Edmonds is also up for election April 7. Edmonds has said he will likely seek re-election, while former Ward 1 council member Russ Arensman has expressed interest as well.
So far, the only candidate to publicly state her intentions for the at-large seat is current city Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Kathy Trauger.
City Clerk Catherine Mythen said Friday that three other people have picked up council nominating petitions, but have not formally declared or made their intentions public as yet.
The deadline to return nominating petitions with the requisite 25 valid signatures is Jan. 26. For more information on the upcoming election, contact Mythen at 970-384-6403.
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