OGDEN – A proposal for a 13% salary increase for the mayor and council of Ogden, contained in the proposed budget for 2023, is apparently no longer under consideration.
“I think the 13 per cent is definitely out of place at this point,” said Janene Eller-Smith, executive director of administration for Ogden City Council.
Instead, officials are more likely to consider a 4% increase or no increase at all when it comes time to formalize the 2023 spending plan, possibly on Aug. 2, she said. The city council approved a pay rise for themselves on December 21 last year and another raise for themselves and the mayor on April 5 as part of efforts to make their compensation competitive with what other elected officials in the area earn.
As proposed in the 2023 budget, which has not yet been finalized or approved, Mayor Mike Caldwell and all seven members of City Council are in line for 13% raises, along with the rest of the general workers working for the city. . Firefighters are to get 14% wage increases and police officers are to get an 8% raise, with funding for the wage increase to come from a proposed 18.8% property tax hike.
However, elected officials, or at least some of them, are uncomfortable with the idea of giving themselves a raise, and last Tuesday, the city council unanimously approved a measure giving them leeway to set their pay scales separately from other workers. In addition, city code requires elected officials to give themselves the same cost-of-living wage increases as most other workers.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Luis Lopez said allowing council members to set their own salaries was a conflict of interest.
“I strongly believe that we board members, we shouldn’t raise our own salaries,” he said. “I see it as a conflict of interest, for me personally. It’s kind of ridiculous, honestly.
Councilor Richard Hyer, for his part, noted the time council members devote to this work, which is considered a part-time position. Council members “add value to the city,” he said, also noting that they face the same pressures brought on by inflation as everyone else.
A compromise proposal discussed by city council members at a previous work session calling for a 4% pay rise “was very reasonable,” Hyer said.
On Wednesday, Eller-Smith said the discussion about modifying or eliminating proposed salary increases for elected leaders stemmed from the realization that their salaries were already roughly at baseline levels recommended by a consultant who s is looking into the matter for the city. This study was included in salary increases approved last December and last April.
That the city is considering a property tax hike to boost workers’ wages, however, illustrates Lopez’s unease with the vote to increase reimbursement for elected leaders. “All the more reason not to do something like this,” he said. He thinks perhaps the salaries of elected leaders should be set by some sort of independent commission.
Council Chairman Ben Nadolski said Wednesday that sentiment among council members appeared to vary. “I personally am for no raise for ourselves, at least nothing above the benchmark,” he said.
A general 4% pay increase for city employees in the 2022 budget increased base pay for city council members from $18,814 to $19,566 as of July 1, 2021. City council then voted 6- 1 on Dec. 21 to boost their base salary from $19,566 to $22,500, up 15%. Lopez voted no.
On April 5, the council voted unanimously for salary increases for all city employees, which increased the base salary of city council members from $22,500 to $22,950, up from 2%. The mayor’s salary, a full-time position, was increased from $133,766.59 to $136,440.90.
Under the 2023 budget proposal as currently presented with the 13% salary increase provision, the base salary for members of the city council would increase from $22,950 to $25,933.50. The mayor’s salary would drop from $136,440.90 to $154,178.22.
In addition to making their salaries competitive with what other elected leaders earn, city council members also argued that increasing their salaries would encourage other low-income people to run for elected office in elections. coming.