Woodbury council divided on pay increaseWoodbury City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday to increase members’ salaries starting next year. Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens and Council Members Amy Scoggins and Julie Ohs voted in favor of the measure, while Council Members Christopher Burns and Paul Rebholz opposed.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday to increase members’ salaries starting next year.
Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens and Council Members Amy Scoggins and Julie Ohs voted in favor of the measure, while Council Members Christopher Burns and Paul Rebholz opposed.
The resolution will bump salaries over a two-step process – the first in 2013 and the second in 2015.
The mayor’s pay will go up from $710 to $917 per month, while the council’s will increase from $545 to $675, according to the resolution.
Then in 2015, the mayor’s monthly salary will be $1,112 and the council’s will be $805.
Administration Services Director Jody Vogl said the current wages, which have been frozen since 2006, are about 30 percent behind comparable cities.
She added that it’s appropriate to review the ordinance pertaining to council compensation on a regular basis. Time commitments and duties have increased significantly over the past few years for the mayor and council members, Vogl said.
When the council discussed the issue at two previous workshops in October and February, Rebholz said he was under the impression that council would vote to approve the first step of the recommended pay increase, and leave the second step up to future council members two years from now.
“I’m just a little struck by we’re passing an ordinance that would kind of bind a future action,” Rebholz said.
He added that there is benefit to not keep coming back to the issue, however, his opinion would be to vote on the first step and revisit council compensation in two years.
Rebholz asked for City Attorney Mark Vierling’s legal opinion on the matter. Vierling said the council can reduce wages at any time.
The council could vote to increase pay in a two-step process starting in 2013 and 2015, or it can only vote on the first step, he added.
“You can make an increase of a lesser portion and trigger one for the future, but I’m not sure you gain a whole lot by doing that,” Vierling said, explaining that either way the council is voting to bind a pay increase for future members anyway.
City Administrator Clint Gridley said it’s more efficient to vote on both steps at once since staff has done the research necessary to get council back up to where its pay is appropriate.
But Burns, who also voted against the motion, said it’s always awkward to talk about his wages when sometimes he abstains from voting on other matters due to conflicts of interest.
“It seems so counterintuitive to have to vote on my own pay,” he said.
However, he recommended increasing the mayor’s pay for now since her involvement in the community has increased dramatically since she began serving on the council.
The resolution ultimately passed with a majority vote that would make the council a little less behind in terms of pay compared to other metropolitan cities.