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Our View: City Council raise deserved despite bad appearances

November 13, 2018

The idea of doubling pay for the part-time mayor and Lake Havasu City Council should have about zero public appeal.

The positions are about citizen service, not creating a paid political class. Besides, who deserves a 100 percent pay increase?

Those statements are all correct. Yet the Council, with the item on its agenda for this evening, should approve the pay increases. Here’s why: Council member pay is currently $650 per month. The mayor gets $950 per month. The pay is generally lower than similar-sized cities, though that’s sort of irrelevant.

What matters is that few people can afford to run for the positions these days.

Retirees, business owners and executives are about the extent of the candidate crop. Everyone else, including those who may be great in these positions, has to worry about losing income by taking away from their primary jobs.

Anyone who believes a council position, much less the mayor’s post, comes down to a couple of meetings a month is mistaken.

There are work sessions, advisory and civic board meetings and a lot of reading. Plus some more reading. Then some more reading.

The amount of time really varies but probably averages some 20 hours per week year-in and year-out. At the proposed $1,211 per month, the pay would be about $14 per hour.

It is at least above minimum wage, which seems an odd threshold for positions with the responsibility of overseeing tens of millions of dollars each year.

A $360 per month internet and cell phone allowance doesn’t move the needle much.

Frankly, though, the timing of this item on the city’s agenda is horrible and almost seems designed to kill it.

It’s the first high-profile item since voters approved a higher city spending limit. It comes as the last action of one council to benefit the next one.

These are defensible, but why add additional bad optics to an issue already ridden with them? It deserves to pass, though, even with the questionable handling.

— Today’s News-Herald

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