Investing in Leadership
A Fort Collins City Council-member gets paid $9,480 per year with no benefits. That might not seem like much money to pay those who make the important decisions for our city. In 1997, when this compensation policy was adopted, it made a little more sense. The workload was about ten hours per week. Since that time, Fort Collins has experienced tremendous growth. We are tackling new, large and complex problems such as homelessness, climate change, and affordability. To do the best job a council-member must now put in 40 or more hours per week. Council-members who can afford to put in 40 hours are working for less than $5.00 an hour. Over half the council members can’t afford that and have other jobs. They are logging far fewer council hours. Council often does not have enough time to thoroughly research, discuss and make the best decisions possible. How can we hold council accountable to a high standard when we pay them so little?
By paying council a salary commensurate with the hours and responsibility required to do the job we will be able to legitimately expect a higher level of performance. Perhaps the greatest benefit of offering full-time pay is that we will attract more, and more diverse, candidates for council. Folks who have to work for a living will be able to run and serve to their full potential. Council-members are ultimately held accountable to their constituents. The election and recall tools will be much more effective if council members are required to publicly report their council related activities. If a council member is not meeting expectations, then s/he will be facing more competition for the job. This will drive better performance.
A full-time schedule for council looks something like:
- 15-20 hrs/week researching
- 15-20 hrs/week in meetings
- 5-10 hrs/week addressing constituent concerns
This schedule will vary, but it is easy to see how this is a 40 hour per week job.
We can provide council the time to do a thorough job and increase performance through competition. It is simply fair labor practice to pay our city leaders a full day’s wage for a full day’s work.
In this website you can provide input as to how much council members should be paid, what their reporting requirements should be, and if they should be allowed to hold other jobs. You can follow (see left column on pages) our progress through blog updates. You can also contribute to the cause financially or by volunteering.