Council waiting on pay raises

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— It became painfully obvious to City Council members that they could not in good faith accept a raise after Sept. 11, but if voters approve a pay increase for the seven elected officials, it could be put in place as early as next spring.

Though City Council members have agreed they will likely defer any pay increases because of budget cuts, voters will still be asked to approve an approximately $200 per month raise Nov. 6. No new tax will have to be levied to pay for the salary increases, which would come out of the city's general fund.

The increase was initially proposed by City Council President Kevin Bennett, who is not seeking re-election. Bennett said he thinks sitting on the council demands more time and effort than the salary currently reflects.

Council members currently make $400 per month, a salary that has not been changed in 12 years. The council president makes $600 per month. Any raise must go to the voters to be approved.

Bennett's suggestion was taken up by Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner, who calculated a salary increase based on the Denver/Boulder Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation.

The raise would be measured based on the inflation rate since 1989, the last time council members got a raise. 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. The plan also assumes a somewhat larger role for the president pro tem, which accounts for that person's increased salary.

Each year starting in 2003, council members would also receive an additional raise based on the inflation rate.

"To be truthful, I would love this thing to pass, knowing the time and energy we all put into this job," she said. "But at the same time, the speed of the leader is the speed of the pack. We can put our increases on hold until it looks like the city can handle it fiscally."

Stettner said the raise would help people who would not otherwise be willing to give up so much time to be on the council by offering them an added incentive.

Councilman Bud Romberg said he thinks the raise is a nice bonus but is not necessarily going to make people want to run for City Council or even prove that big of an incentive.

"I don't think that people run for office because of the salary," Romberg said.

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