SMALL-TOWN OFFICIALS DON'T BREAK EVEN IN THE PAY DEPARTMENT
THEY DEPEND ON THE SATISFACTIONS GAINED FROM CONTRIBUTING TO THE WELL-BEING OF THEIR UTAH COUNTY COMMUNITIESIf you want to make a quick buck on the side, being a small-town mayor or city council member definitely is not the thing to do.
Springville City Recorder Richard Manning says moonlighting politicians "make way below minimum wage" and usually spend more on their campaigns than what they make.So why run for office? "It's a community service," he said. "Their salary is more a token compensation for the hours they put in."
Matt Packard, a recently elected Springville council member, said a common phrase among small-town politicians is, "If I walk to the meetings I could break even." He said he serves out of a sense of civic responsibility. "I think all in society have a responsibility to make a contribution."
Packard, office manager at Central Bank in Springville, says he has no regrets about running. "I would do it again knowing what I know now. Money was not even a consideration. I was aware that it paid, but I didn't know how much."
For its size, Springville pays its mayor and council the least amount of any city in Utah County. The wage hasn't changed for at least eight years, Manning said.
Each month the Springville mayor receives a $250 salary and a $75 expense check. Council members get $150 in salary and $75 for expenses.
Mayors and city council members throughout the county spend anywhere from 20 to 100 hours a month at various meetings. Two or three council meetings, lasting three to four hours each, are held a month. Many council members and mayors also are involved with civic committees and are asked to attend those meetings.
"It's just part time, but in actuality it is a full-time job," said Dick Colborn, American Fork city recorder.
Even though small towns don't pay their elected officials much, some pay better than others.
For a city that has approximately 1,000 people more than Springville, American Fork pays its mayor an additional $175 and its council members $100 more. The mayor gets a $300 salary and a $200 travel allowance. Council members make $200, with a $135 travel allowance.
Payson, however, is the top-paying city in Utah County when everything is taken into consideration. Payson is one of the smallest cities in the county but pays its mayor a $450 salary and a $300 salary to council members. Payson also employs a city administrator to work full time directly under the mayor. He makes approximately $3,000 a month.
Payson Mayor Curtis Arrington said he was unaware of how his salary compared with other mayors' compensation. The money he earns helps pay for some expenses, but a lot goes back into city functions, he said.
"I ran for office because I wanted to see things develop and wanted to make decisions to help the city. I thought certain things needed to happen, and I didn't see anyone else step forward, so I decided to."
He said it was a natural step at the time, but he has no further political ambitions.
"It is something I have enjoyed. It has been difficult at times when I have had to make hard decisions, but it is a rewarding experience."
For bigger cities like Provo and Orem - where population is seven to eight times the size of Payson's - a chief administrative officer or city manager are employed full time.
Orem's city manager makes approximately $5,000 a month and the city's part-time mayor makes $900. Council members make $350 a month and are reimbursed for city business expenses.
The city manager is appointed by the council and mayor to oversee operations of the city. Orem changed its form of government from council-mayor to council-manager in 1982.
Provo pays its chief administrative officer approximately $3,800 and its full-time mayor approximately $3,600 a month. Provo council members make $461 a month, and the council chairman makes $646.
The mayor is elected as the city's governing officer and he appoints the chief administrative officer to assist him.
To increase wages for elected officials, cities usually hold a public hearing to discuss a budget increase. But most Utah County cities haven't changed the salaries of elected officials for five years or more.
"Budgets are tight. The reason why people run is to serve, not to make money. I don't think anybody runs for the money," said Daryl Berlin, Orem city manager.
Clyde Swenson, Spanish Fork city recorder and administrator of finance, said, "They have to have some motivation to do it because they don't get paid much."
Spanish Fork's mayor makes $300 a month and each council member makes $200. They are paid $25 for each additional meeting they attend that does not pertain to regular City Council assignments. They also are paid for mileage outside of the city.
Spanish Fork also has a city administrator, who makes $3,000 a month. He is responsible for the administration of the city under the direction of the mayor.
"It works really well," City Administrator David Oyler said. "It helps pull the city together" to have a full-time administrator.
In Pleasant Grove, the mayor makes $300 plus $50 for travel expenses. Council members make $150 and have a $50 monthly travel expense.
Lehi's mayor makes $250 a month with a $150 travel expense, and council members make $200 a month with a $100 travel expense.
"They know what they are getting into," Colborn said. "A lot enjoy it and feel a sense of accomplishment when they've done a good job."