Council Gives Itself A Raise

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The town council voted itself a 100 percent pay raise, while increasing the mayor's salary 80 percent at its regular meeting Thursday evening.

The vote was 6-0 in favor of the increases, with Mayor Barbara Brewer recusing herself because she has announced her intention to run for re-election. The raises will take effect following the 2006 election.

At that time, the mayor's salary will go from $500 per month to $900, while councilors will go from $250 to $500.

Councilor Tim Fruth, who made the motion to raise salaries, explained his rationale.

"I do believe with public officials, you get a lot for your money," Fruth said. "That's just a fact of life."

Councilor Dick Reese focused his remarks on motives for running for public office.

"People should run because they feel a passion for service, not compensation," Reese said. "But there's a reasonableness test that has to be passed, and (the numbers) suggest we are not passing the reasonableness test."

Reese was referring to a presentation by Tracy Snyder, human resources manager, summarizing a market study of compensation in "comparable municipalities" -- Avondale, Cottonwood, Gilbert, Goodyear, Prescott, Sierra Vista, and Wickenburg.

The average compensation of those 10 municipalities is $845 for mayors and $463 for councilors. Compensation ranges from a high of $2,300 for the mayor of Gilbert to $200 for councilors in Wickenburg.

"As you can see, our mayor, compared to this group of municipalities, is about 69 percent below market, and the council members are about 85 percent below market," Snyder told the council.

Vice Mayor Judy Buettner originally brought up the issue of a pay increase.

"I felt justified to be a spokesperson because I wasn't running again and certainly for me this is no conflict," Buettner said. "We don't do it for the money, but it can be very demeaning to be so far below what the other cities our size in population do."

The change is estimated to cost the town $18,600 per year.

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