Could it attract more people to run?
By Mark Reaman
The Crested Butte town council will consider how much to pay incoming councilmembers at the next council meeting and it appears they will award a raise of at least $200 per month for councilmembers and $300 for the mayor. Currently councilmembers receive $650 a month or $7,800 per year while the mayor’s position garners $1,050 a month or $12,600 annually. They all get a $25 monthly stipend for their cell phones.
The compensation discussion is a regular topic before elections since only newly elected representatives are eligible for the raise. Councilmember Will Dujardin has suggested that perhaps higher compensation and/or health benefits could result in more people being interested in serving on the board given the amount of work involved.
Staff compiled data from other Colorado Association of Ski Town (CAST) members that indicated Crested Butte councilmembers are paid about $100 a month less than the average compensation at the other communities. A few other communities offer some health, dental or life insurance benefits to councilmembers as well.
Councilmember Jason MacMillan warned of the unintended consequences of offering health insurance since it could force some people to be moved off the Affordable Care Act health exchange if not handled appropriately. He suggested that increasing salary would be a cleaner process.
“I know from experience that it takes a lot of hours to do the council job right,” said Dujardin, who is moving and plans to step off the council later this month.
“It is important to have people on council who work fulltime,” said councilmember Mallika Magner. “We are public servants, and we are on the council because we love the town not to make money. Getting paid any amount is terrific.”
Dujardin said he was surprised when first elected to get a paycheck, but it came in handy to help pay his rent and expenses.
“Bumping the pay might result in attracting some people,” agreed councilmember Jasmine Whalen.
Mayor Jim Schmidt, who is not running for re-election, suggested the $200 raise for council and $300 bump for the mayor.
Kent Cowherd who has declared he plans to run for mayor in the upcoming election advocated for a larger monetary bump. “It is one hell of a parttime job that requires fulltime work,” he said. “I hope the salary can be increased in an impactful way. Regardless to the comparison to other towns, in the sense of fairness, the increase should be more.”
“We definitely need to think about the time it takes to do this,” said Dujardin.
With no other suggestion for appropriate compensation, the council will discuss Schmidt’s numbers at the August 16 meeting.