AP NEWS

Longmont City Council Member Proposes Pay-increase Ballot Question

April 6, 2019

Municipal leaders’ current pay (

Mayors:

• Boulder: $229.66 per meeting for up to 52 meetings a year

• Broomfield: Current mayor, $9,600 annually set to increase for next mayor to $13,200 annually

• Erie: $500 per month and $25 per meeting, up to a maximum of $200 per month for meetings.

• Dacono: Mayor $75 monthly

• Firestone: $350 monthly

• Frederick: $300 monthly

• Jamestown: No paid town salary)

• Lafayettte: $11,778.52 annually

• Longmont: $1,500 monthly

• Louisville: $500 monthly; set to increase to $1,110 after 2019 election

• Lyons: $400 monthly

• Mead: $208 per meeting

• Superior: $750 monthly

• Nederland: $250 monthly

 

City council members, town trustees:

• Boulder: $229.66 per meeting for up to 52 meetings a year

• Broomfield: $9,600 annually

• Erie: $300 per month and $25 per meeting, up to a maximum of $100 per month for meetings.

• Dacono: $50 monthly

• Firestone: $300 monthly

• Frederick: $150 monthly

• Jamestown: No paid town salary

• Lafayette: $8,439.60 annually

• Longmont: $1,000 monthly

• Louisville: $972 monthly under most recent raise for new council members; three council members still receiving $250 a month)

• Lyons: $200 monthly

• Mead: $150 per meeting

• Nederland: $150 monthly

• Superior: $500 monthly

Sources: Colorado Municipal League; Town of Superior; Town of Jamestown; City of Boulder; Town of Nederland

Longmont City Councilwoman Polly Christensen wants the city to ask voters to authorize a pay increase for the mayor and council members.

It would be the first such pay hike for Longmont elected officials in nearly 20 years, Christensen said.

Under the levels that took effect on Jan. 1, 2000, the mayor is now paid $1,500 a month, and each of the other six council members, $1,000 a month.

During the Longmont council’s Tuesday night study session, a meeting that included discussions of several questions the council might advance to the November ballot, Christensen suggested asking voters to approve raising the mayor’s pay to $1,600 a month, and council members’ pay to $1,350 a month.

Christensen’s proposal also proposes automatic pay increases every two years afterward, based on increases in the consumer price index for the area.

She did not put her ballot question pay raise idea into the form of a motion for her council colleagues to vote on Tuesday. But in a Wednesday email she said she intends to bring it up again later this year, when council resumes discussions of possible ballot items.

After Christensen raised the idea, Mayor Brian Bagley was the only member of the council to comment on it during Tuesday’s meeting.

Bagley agreed that there’s a need for higher pay but said that as long as he is in the mayor’s office, he would not support an increase in the mayor’s compensation.

“But when I’m done,” Bagley said, he will make the argument “that you need to pay the mayor and council more.”

Bagley was elected to the Ward 1 council seat in 2011, re-elected in 2015 and elected to a two-year term as mayor in 2017. He has not yet announced whether he’ll seek re-election to another two years in the mayor’s post this year.

“I don’t need the money” Longmont pays its mayor, said Bagley, an attorney.

But he said he said that given the time it takes to carry out a council member’s duties, someone has “to be independently wealthy, own your own business or be retired” in order to afford serving in that municipal office.

“No one else in the community, for all intents and purposes, can serve on this body, as a result of the time commitment,” he said.

Christensen, a retired editor and art director who worked at the University of Colorado, said in her case, the after-taxes $1,000 monthly pay amounts to just under $800 a month for a job that includes at least four council meetings a month that typically last three to six hours each and the reading of agenda packets that can total 300 to 700 pages per meeting.

She said her time on the council also involves “researching and asking questions of staff” about issues in order to prepare for the weekly regular meetings and study sessions, as well as “numerous pre-session” meetings, and occasional executive sessions to discuss legal issues.

Christensen, who first won election to an at-large seat council seat in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017, also is the mayor pro tem, the member council has authorized to assume the mayor’s duties when the mayor is absent.

She said each council member meets monthly with between four and nine advisory boards and commissions, with several hours per month spent in those meetings as well as time spent on “associated research and travel.”

She said she also attends at least three out-of-city conferences each year, “for collaborative, educational and professional development purposes,” and spends time preparing for and attending meetings on “special individual projects” such as housing, early childhood learning and transportation.

Council members also meet and correspond with constituents “to try and help them” and talk to school gatherings or groups, such as the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce, she said.

Christensen said Wednesday that if council members advance the suggested measure to the ballot, and if voters approve it, the raises would be awarded both to serving council members and those elected or re-elected in the future.

John Fryar: 303-684-5211, jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc