What’s fair for the work that’s required?
[ by Mark Reaman ]
The Crested Butte council will consider giving future councilmembers and the mayor a raise at the September 7 meeting. As is somewhat usual, the council considers its compensation before an upcoming election and that will happen this November. Only newly elected council members are eligible for any raise since board members cannot directly vote themselves an increase in their compensation.
Currently the councilmembers receive $650 a month and the mayor is paid $1,050. The proposal on the table is to increase the council salary $200 a month and the mayor position by another $300 a month.
Councilmember Mallika Magner asked if the mayor deserved that much more than fellow councilmembers. “Does the mayor spend significantly more time in the job than councilmembers?” she asked.
“Yes,” responded mayor Jim Schmidt. “Having been both a councilmember and the mayor I can say the mayor’s position can take up probably twice as much time as being on the council.”
“But under our system of government, the mayor is primarily a ceremonial position, isn’t it?” Magner asked. “He or she runs the meeting. There is no requirement of the mayor to spend more time.”
“My expectation is that the mayor should spend more time on town business,” said councilmember Jason MacMillan. “It is definitely a more public role. As a councilman I can choose to hide out with my 4-year-old and I don’t think the mayor gets that option as much.”
Schmidt said some people choose to spend more time than others as both a councilmember or mayor. He noted some town representatives read the council packet thoroughly while others look at it for the first time at the actual meeting. He said he even served with a mayor who chose not to go to budget work sessions.
“I am good with the proposed $200 increase for council and $300 for the mayor,” said councilmember Mona Merrill.
“I feel that’s a little backwards sometime,” said councilmember Will Dujardin who has advocated for significant increases in salary to perhaps entice more candidates to run for office. “The mayor is a two-year term so sometimes it can be awkward when a councilmember with a four-year term doesn’t get an increase at the same time. In Gunnison and Mt. Crested Butte everyone runs for council and then the council appoints the mayor. That is something to consider.”
The discussion will continue at the next council meeting on September 7.