The Sugar City Council is considering doubling its monthly paycheck. It discussed doing so during its Thursday council meeting.
Council members currently earn $200 a month and haven’t had a raise in five years. It was proposed to increase council members‘ salaries to $400 a month.
The council received its last pay raise in 2016 when the monthly salary went from $100 to $200.
At the time, then mayor David Ogden’s salary was increased to $800. In 2018, the council agreed to raise the mayor’s monthly wage to $1,200. In 2019, council members declined a pay increase for themselves.
State law only allows for city councils to vote on a salary increase during an election year. This fall, council members Glenn Dayley and Catherine Nielsen are up for reelection.
For the increase to be a part of the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, the city council must make the decision on the pay raise in the ensuing weeks. Should they vote for it, the salary increase will be added to the city’s new budget but won’t go into effect until January 2022.
“I agree there needs to be a council increase,” Mayor Steve Adams said. “I think there should be a mathematical rational proposed with it in order for me to be supportive of it,” he said.
Nielsen said that council members spend a lot of time researching state and city code, making phone calls and writing up information for council meetings.
“Sometimes I spend several days — the majority of the day — researching things,” she said.
Councilwoman Joy Ball said that in addition to her council duties, she spends a considerable amount of time working with the city’s beautification committee and the historic preservation council.
“It’s not all city (business). I feel like we’ve been working really hard. There hasn’t been a pay raise for a lot of years. I know how much effort I put in,” she said.
Dayley said he puts in about five hours a week for the city.
“There are some weeks where there’s way more than that, some weeks probably not that,” he said. “If I average 20 hours a month, that would be 10 bucks an hour.”
Dayley noted that he had spent much more than five hours a week recently working to help put on Sugar Days held on Saturday.
Adams appointed Dayley to serve on the council last year after Councilman Steve Davis resigned. Dayley said at the time, he had no idea that council service came with a paycheck.
“When I came on, I didn’t know you got paid. (The city said) ‘We forgot to pay you for the last six months,” he said. “It’s a weird thing to be voting for your own salary increase. The money isn’t the reason, of course, why anybody does this job.”
Adams said he realized the amount of time council members work on city business would vary. He asked what reasonable pay would be.
“I would think it would be more of a stipend. It’s not a generous thing. A reasonable compensation for an average amount of time is what I’m looking for,” he said.
Adams said that it’s vital that the city pay its council members something to make it worth their time to serve. Doing so might influence someone to run for city council.
“I also know, if there wasn’t any pay, I wouldn’t have run for mayor. My time is of value to my family. This is why I agree with a raise for the council. I think a reasonable compensation needs to be in place,” he said.
The Association of Idaho Cities is currently creating a survey to compare how much cities are paying their mayors and council members.
The Sugar City Council will review AIC’s findings once they are released. It also agreed to discuss its proposed pay increase during its next city council meeting. It will be held at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 22, at city hall. For more information call 208-356-7561.