Investing in Leadership
Current City Council compensation policy reads: “Commencing in 1998, the compensation for all Councilmembers except the Mayor shall be five hundred dollars ($500.) per month and the compensation of the Mayor shall be seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.) per month. These amounts shall be adjusted annually thereafter for inflation in accordance with the Denver/ Boulder Consumer Price Index.”
In 2017 Council pay was $9,480 per year.
Many current and past Councilmembers, as well as people who work with Council, agree that this job now requires 40 hours per week. About half of the current Councilmembers have other jobs and can’t give the necessary time to work on Council. The Councilmembers who do give 40 hours per week are paid less than $5 an hour. To get the best work from Council, we need to pay them for a full-time effort.
Council is responsible for the following:
Approving and supervising a $500 million per year budget.
Communicating with a 2,000-employee City staff.
Answering to 161,000 constituents.
Making the decisions that shape Fort Collins.
The full-time Council workweek looks something like the following:
15 hours – Researching innumerable topics from advertising to zoning.
15 hours – Attending various Council, board, community, and miscellaneous meetings.
6 hours – Meeting with individual constituents.
4 hours – Meeting with City staff leaders.
Fort Collins has experienced tremendous growth and has to tackle complex problems such as homelessness, affordability, and climate change. 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?
The Fort Collins Area Median Income (AMI) is about $60,000 per year, which is roughly the salary of a librarian, parks maintenance tech, and police dispatcher.
Paying Councilmembers at the AMI will not only provide the time and resources to do a better job, but will also attract more candidates from more diverse backgrounds. Competition will improve the quality of candidates, and diversity will make City Council more representative of the community. Full-time pay will attract the best candidates and get the best work from our city council.
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. We are proposing that, along with increased pay, council members be required to publicly report their council related activities. This gives council the resources to do a good job and constituents the information to hold their elected leaders accountable.
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