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Lake Havasu City leaders balk at pay increases for themselves

November 14, 2018

The Lake Havasu City mayor and City Council members will not get a pay raise in the foreseeable future.

After a lengthy discussion, Councilman Gordon Groat moved to approve the proposed pay raises but no other council member seconded the motion, killing the proposal.

The city leaders have not changed their pay compensation since 1995.

City council members earlier this year asked city staff to adjust monthly salaries for the mayor and council. City staff surveyed cities ranked between 12th and 20th in population, as Havasu is the 17th largest city in the state. From that, city staff determined council members should make $1,211 per month and the mayor should make $1,905 per month.

Council members currently make $650 a month, and the mayor makes $950 a month.

While most councilmembers on Tuesday agreed the conversation was long overdue, some didn’t feel comfortable voting for the pay raise until after they discuss and analyze compensation for all city employees.

Councilmember Michele Lin asked why they are discussing their own compensation before discussing whether city employees need a raise.

Councilmember David Lane said the pay council members receive is about the same as what he spends to attend events in the city. He said after paying for his family’s benefits, his pay comes to $441.

Lane said he doesn’t mind not making money from serving on the council because he does it for the public service aspect. While he agreed that a raise in compensation would be good, he said he would vote against it because he agrees with Lin that they should first adjust other city employees’ pay.

Councilmember Donna McCoy echoed Lin and Lane’s comments, saying she would also vote against the raise because she thought it was bad timing after telling employees they could not get a pay raise yet.

“For me it feels very uncomfortable to say we’re going to vote City Council a raise at this time,” she said.

Nexsen said they could still approve the measure and change the date the pay raise takes effect or if they’re against the raise they can donate the difference to charity.

“If you think it’s a good idea and the timing is wrong, fix the timing,” he said. “As opposed to saying, we’ll kick the can down the road.”

He said if people were reluctant to bring up the issue for 25 years (It was voted on in 1993 and didn’t take effect until 1995.) he could see the same thing happening after this year.

Lane said if the council analyzes city employee salaries in 2019 and includes salaries of council members and the mayor in that study, he would definitely bring up the issue next year.

Doug Carr, a Havasu resident, told the council 25 years is a long time for a raise.

“I think you oughta go for it,” Carr said. “You deserve it. It’s not very much money.”

Councilmember Groat said he can’t think of anyone who would be OK with not getting a pay raise in 25 years.

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