Following the discussion on raising city commission salaries at recent city commission meetings, residents discussed the proposition in public comment at the July 26 commission meeting.
Paul Kuta spoke in favor of raises.
“I don’t believe an individual seeking elected office at any level of government should have to be financially affluent to run for office,” Kuta said. “We need smart people who are willing to put in the time and effort to undertake public service.”
Others, like Jake Valentine, argued that police officers need their salaries addressed before the city commission can see a raise.
“I believe you should be paid more but I believe that others are first in line,” Valentine said.
Mayor Scott Newton noted that the commission asked the police union to “reopen” an article in their contract about salaries. He called himself a “big proponent” of the police department and believes they have “always been underpaid.”
Newton said there will be a new contract for the police department next year and spoke in favor of the police seeing salary raises.
The city commission wants to increase the city commission salary from $9,750 to $25,000 and to increase the mayor's salary from $11,250 to $30,000. Newton spoke on the ethics of bringing up the discussion before the election.
“We could’ve easily done this after the election and whoever’s up here then could’ve done it and … be forgotten down the road,” Newton said. “But I didn’t think that was the right thing to do.”
Commissioner Mike Bracchi brought up the compensation study Commissioner Gary Resnick asked for last year. The study included all city departments except the city commission.
“I have a feeling that if the commission was included in that compensation study, we would not be having this taboo conversation because we would’ve just said ‘okay, let’s just follow the study,’” Bracchi said.
The city commission is also interested in giving the city manager a raise as well and possibly including a cost-of-living adjustment in the ordinance for raising city commission salaries to avoid bringing up the issue of raises later.
The first reading of the city commission salary raise ordinance will be at the next city commission meeting Aug. 26. The Aug. 9 meeting is canceled due to summer recess.