Mayor’s compensation increased for an increasingly demanding job
Feb 24, 2020 11:55AM
● By Mimi Darley Dutton
Mayor Troy Walker, seen here with Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, will now have health insurance and a vehicle allowance, adding about $19,000 annually to his compensation. (Mimi Darley Dutton/City Journals)
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
At the first city council meeting of 2020, the mayor’s compensation was amended with the addition of a $400/month vehicle allowance and health insurance at $14,400/year for a total annual increase of $19,200.
The mayor’s compensation had been $35,000 annually. The addition of the $19,200 in benefits brings the total annual compensation to $54,200.
According to a chart presented to the council by Finance Director Bob Wylie, compensation for mayors in surrounding cities with a similar form of government ranged from a low of $21,600 in Bountiful to a high of $65,400 in Midvale. With this increase, the position of Draper mayor is compensated most similarly to the mayor of West Valley but still less than Orem, St. George and Midvale. Wylie indicated that funding for this increase in the mayor’s compensation will come from an increase in sales tax revenue.
The issue was separated from other budget items for the sake of public input and discussion. The amendment passed in a 4-1 vote at what was the first official meeting for newly elected council members Cal Roberts and Fred Lowry.
Lowry said this was a difficult decision and one that had kept him awake at night because of the responsibility he feels for public trust. He voted in favor of the amendment. “We are a top-tier city. We need to make sure we continue to reflect that with the way we compensate these positions,” he said.
Councilmember Mike Green clarified that this was partially done to remedy what had mistakenly been left out. “Last July was the first pay raise for the mayor and city council in 10 years. A fringe benefit to the mayor was a vehicle allowance. When we approved the pay in 2018, we omitted that in the motion, so all we did was to bring that benefit back that we had missed. Then we added health care because every other mayor in our class has health care except for us,” Green said.
Councilmember Tasha Lowery felt strongly in favor of the increase. “We do ask and expect any mayor to show up and work hard and represent our city well, time that could be spent at other higher-paying employment. This type of vote is always hard, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. Fair compensation is important to all of us,” she said. Lowery later noted that city council members do not have health insurance from the city because of their part-time status.
Roberts was the only vote against increasing the mayor’s compensation. “We have a phenomenal mayor. I just have a political principle where I don’t think we should be raising the salary for a public servant when so many people in private and the public sector aren’t seeing the same kinds of salary increases. For me, I think public service should primarily be about public service,” Roberts said.
Walker did not vote on this item. The mayor only votes if there is a tie among council members, which can only happen if one of them is absent. But he did offer his thoughts prior to the vote. He said he watched Darrell Smith do the job before him, and like Smith, he has another full-time job in addition to being mayor. Walker is an attorney. “The amount of time the mayor can spend on behalf of a city has gone up markedly in the time I’ve served in the position. I can tell you it’s not going to lessen, it’s going to go up. I didn’t run for the money. I drive my own vehicle, use my own phone and laptop. As you look forward to the future, I think we should at least be the average (for pay),” Walker said.
Draper is a council manager form of city government, meaning the mayor works part time and presides over the council, but the daily administration is the job of the city manager. Public records indicate that Draper’s City Manager David Dobbins was compensated $237,000 in 2019, Walker was compensated $38,000 and city council members were paid about $30,000.
Sandy is a council mayor form of government where the mayor is expected to work full time and has more power and responsibilities. Sandy’s mayor Kurt Bradburn gave himself a $15,000 raise during his first month in office, an action many considered controversial. Public records indicate his 2019 compensation was $178,000 and council members were paid in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.
Other approved amendments to the city’s third-quarter budget included funding for an all-abilities park, four electric car charging systems, a new ambulance, funding for exercise equipment for the police annex and a Jordan River boat launch for non-motorized boats such as kayaks and canoes.
The city’s fiscal year runs June to May. More information on compensation for public employees can be found at Utah.gov/transparency