After debating for nearly an hour, the supporters of a pay raise for Centerville's council members and mayor backed off, agreeing to table the proposal indefinitely.
Three council members - enough to push the raises through - introduced the ordinance to raise their pay and spoke in favor of it in a public hearing Tuesday.Two council members and the mayor, who votes only to break a tie, oppose the idea.
Several former council members also spoke at the public hearing and the issue split them, too.
The mayor currently earns $600 a month in salary and travel. The raise would have boosted that to $750 a month in salary and added a $25-per-meeting attendance bonus. Annually, the mayor's pay under the proposal would have gone from $7,200 to $9,000 or $9,600 if he attended all regularly scheduled monthly meetings.
The proposal would have hiked council salaries from $175 a month, plus $1,500 annually for travel, to $250 a month with an additional $25-per-meeting bonus. Council salaries would have gone from $2,100 annually to $3,000 or $3,600 for attending all the city's meetings.
The increases would cost an additional $10,000 a year, City Manager Davis Hales estimates.
Councilman Steve Mangel said the proposed change reflects changes in federal tax laws, and the meeting bonus encourages regular attendance at council meetings.
Councilman Mike Barton, also a supporter of the increase, said council members should be adequately reimbursed for the time they spend on city business. He also supported the attendance bonus, saying it would move the city away from paying council members when they don't attend meetings.
Councilman Kent Lindsay surveyed the salaries of other council members along the Wasatch Front and said Centerville is falling behind on its pay scale. There is also a significant jump in pay for council members as cities increase in size, with a population of 6,000 appearing to be the point at which substantial increases occur, Lindsey said.
Centerville is approaching 12,000 population and the problems facing the city are also growing, as is the time commitment of council members to resolve them, Lindsey said.
Councilman Bruce Erickson said he would like to see the council's pay reduced, not increased, to put more emphasis on the public service aspect of the job.
His opinion is shared by council member Nancy Gibb, who said that although the current pay scale doesn't compensate for the hours spent on city business, money shouldn't be the motivating factor in serving on the council.
Barton countered that not enough qualified people are being attracted to serve on the council or in other city positions, and the salary should be increased to make the job more attractive.
Mayor Michael Kjar, although unable to vote on the issue, said he adamantly opposes the increase and cannot accept the idea of increasing compensation for what should be a public service job.