City Council members were ready a week ago to raise their pay to $7,000 per year and the mayor's to $57,844 when they were informed they couldn't do so without holding a public hearing.

The council on Oct. 10 voted 6-1 to adopt changes to city employees' pay and benefits package as well as their own raises. Councilman Wes Losser voted against the motion, saying he supported raising employee pay but did not want to give the council a pay raise.The council reframed the motion to exclude their own raise after a city staffer told them they couldn't legally vote themselves the increase until they had held a public hearing on the proposal.

Had it been legal, their vote would have increased their annual pay from $5,544 to $7,000, and the mayor's from $54,828 to $57,844.

The public hearing is scheduled for the council's Oct. 24 meeting, when they will consider whether to give themselves the raise after all.

The pay increases were originally discussed as part of a city pay and benefits study. The study, completed by the Salt Lake-based John Gisler Group, included analyses of pay and benefits in other Salt Lake Valley municipalities and the county, and was used as the basis for the council's Oct. 10 approval of across-the-board pay raises, pay scale augmentations for senior police and fire department employees and additional pay in the form of merit increases.

Taken together, the pay raises represent an average 5.5 percent increase for South Salt Lake's 108 full-time city employees, and will be retroactive to July 1.

The study also suggested altering the city's benefits package as a way to offset the cost of the pay raises. Recommendations included changes in the city's medical and disability insurance, a reduction in the number of paid holidays from 13 days to 11 days and allowing reimbursements for college courses taken by an employee only if the courses directly relate to the employee's job.

The council deferred action on the recommended changes to the medical and disability insurance pending further study.

Consultant John Gisler told the council that with the exception of police and firefighters with more than five years' service, South Salt Lake's pay scale compared favorably with other public entities.