The Star Valley Town Council voted Tuesday to give council members a 150 percent raise starting in 2015 in hopes of drumming up more interest in serving on the board, since no one ran against the incumbents in the last election.
Starting in January of 2015, council members will receive a $500 monthly stipend, up from the current $200. The mayor will get $700 instead of the current $400.
Councilor Barbara Hartwell asked for a vote on the raise, saying the council hasn’t had one since 2008.
Once the increase takes effect, Star Valley council members will make just as much as Payson councilors, although Payson has seven times as many residents. However, Payson councilors had the option of getting health insurance through the town while Star Valley doesn’t.
After a lengthy discussion Tuesday, the council was divided on the increase, said Town Manager Tim Grier.
Councilors Vern Leis and Gary Coon opposed the increase because they hadn’t taken the position for the money, Grier said. Ironically, Coon and Leis spend more time on the job than most, Grier said.
However, most of the council members supported the increase — some reluctantly.
Mayor Ronnie McDaniel said he would like to forgo a pay increase, but the majority of the council felt the mayor should receive more given his duties, Grier said.
Councilor George Binney, an outspoken foe of government spending, voted for the pay increases, but only to step up interest among residents for serving on the council. Binney said he hoped it would attract more candidates, Grier said.
The measure passed 5-2 with Coon and Leis voting in opposition.
Code prevents council members from giving themselves a raise, so the increase won’t go into effect until after next year’s November elections.
Leis, McDaniel, Councilor Paty Henderson and Vice Mayor Del Newland are up for re-election at that time.
Councilors Hartwell, George Binney and Gary Coon are not, but will still get the stipend increase.
Grier said the council likely wouldn’t consider another stipend increase for 3.5 years, the time of the next election.
He supported the increase.
“They put in a ton of time,” he said. “People outside of the council don’t see how much time they put in.”
With the increase, Star Valley councilors will make more per capita than most councilors in the state. At the new rate of $6,000 a year per councilor and a population of 2,300, that equates to $2.60 a resident. In Payson, councilors make $6,000 a year, equating to 40 cents a resident.