Candidate weighs commitment

Possible council nominee says compensation a barrier

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— As the first week to pull petition papers for City Council nominations comes to a close, an issue which has driven a number of people to run for the council may also keep at least one of them out of the November race.

Darcy Trask, the third potential candidate to say she hopes to be a voice for Steamboat's working class, said she might not be able to make the commitment to the council because the compensation doesn't make up for the time and effort involved.

Trask, who is on the First Impressions board as a parent representative and works two jobs, pulled petition papers to enter the District 3 race this week but is unsure if she will actually try to run.

Trask said some of the same people who ought to be on the council representing working people have neither the time nor the money to do so, especially if they have families.

With the cost of living in the valley, few people working full-time in at least one job are able to make the commitment to public service being on City Council necessitates.

"People that need to be involved in City Council can't because they're working a full-time job or two jobs or they have a family," Trask said.

Council members say they spend anywhere from 10 to 30 or 40 hours per week on council-related business, depending on their level of commitment and outside obligations.

If she were to be better compensated for the time and effort she would have to put into being on council, the decision might be a little easier, Trask said.

Council members make $400 per month, a salary that has not been changed in 11 years. The council president makes $600 per month.

Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner has proposed asking the voters if they are willing to raise council salaries at the same rate as the Denver/Boulder Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation.

The raise would be measured based on the inflation rate since 1989, the last time council members got a boost in their salaries. That comes out to about $600 per month for council members, $700 for the council president pro tem and $800 for the council president, based on Stettner's plan.

Situations like Trask's inspired Stettner to propose the raise, which was an amendment to a proposal from City Council President Kevin Bennett.

Stettner said she thinks the City Council does represent the working people of Steamboat Springs, noting that some council members own their own businesses or work at least one job to make it in Steamboat.

Some, such as herself, have to make a "family sacrifice" to be on the council, she said.

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