Archive for Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mayor stumps for pay raises

Highberger would like to boost salaries of all positions on elected council

August 31, 2005


Lawrence's population is growing, but the salaries of the five city commissioners who govern it have not.

Mayor Boog Highberger said Tuesday he believes it is time to consider giving a significant pay raise to city commissioners and the mayor.

"I know that some people have had to take a substantial cut in income to do the job," Highberger said. "I think that really discourages some people from seeking office. I want to make sure the job is open to not just people who are independently wealthy."

Highberger said he'd like his fellow commissioners to consider boosting commissioners' salaries from $9,000 per year to $15,000 per year and the mayor's salary from $10,000 to $20,000 per year.

Highberger, though, said he thought any pay increase should not take effect until new city commission terms begin. In other words, current commissioners wouldn't receive a pay increase unless they were re-elected.

The last time city commission salaries were adjusted was in 1999, when they were increased from $6,000 per year and the mayor was given an extra $1,000 per year. Highberger said he would like to see the pay issue become part of the city's 2007 budget process, which will begin in the summer of 2006.

City Commissioner Mike Amyx said he's open to having the discussion. He said the time that is required to do the job well has increased since the time he first served on the commission in the late 1980s.

"One of the biggest things is the population is a lot more than it used to be," Amyx said. "That creates more phone calls, more people wanting to have meetings."

Highberger, who works as an attorney for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, estimated he spent about 30 hours per week on city business. He said he had not yet had to cut his hours at KDHE, but said it would create a financial hardship if he ultimately were forced to do so. Highberger said the new salary structure would make it more feasible for a mayor or commissioners to cut back to part-time status with their regular jobs while serving the city.

He said the balancing act, though, was to not create a system that encourages people to be full-time city commissioners.

"I think everyone's life experiences makes them a better commissioner," Highberger said. "I think it would be unfortunate if we lost that aspect."

Amyx, who owns a barber shop in downtown, said he agreed it probably was difficult for many people to serve, especially if they did not have flexible work schedules. But he said the city should do more research on what other communities pay elected officials before the city makes any changes.

Amyx said he thought a committee, made up largely of nonelected officials, should study the salary issue and report back to commissioners. City Manager Mike Wildgen said he already has begun requesting information from area cities. He expects to have a report detailing other cities' salary structures this fall.

A quick check with two of Lawrence's neighbors found that city council members in Topeka are paid $10,000 per year and the mayor is paid $20,000 per year. In Olathe, council members are paid $5,400 per year and the mayor is paid $7,200 per year.


leavemealone 12 years, 8 months ago

A novel idea...ban the round-a-bouts(or traffic circles or whatever they are called this week) so that the commishs can have their raises!!!

kansaskev61 12 years, 8 months ago

The pay raise SHOULD be based on effectiveness in leadership. If the increase was based on promoting a liberal agenda in Lawrence, then Boog should be paid $Million. Not really money well spent, but Lawrence has wasted and frittered away a lot more for a lot less! We could always legalize Marijuana in Lawrence, tax the heck out of it and use the tax money for the Commission pay increases. Or, we could let Walmart build on Wakarusa and then tax the heck out of them and use that money for the increases? Better yet, lets finish the bypass thru the wetlands, charge a toll, use half for the commission payraise and half to buy farmland else where, flood it and then call it the NEW wetlands. Maybe I'll run for the commission and get a pay increase!

LB 12 years, 8 months ago

Based on the figures in this article that amounts to a raise of 60-100%!! WOW! Wouldn't it be nice if we could all get that! Most people only get 2.5% and are dang happy to get it in today's economy.
I say give them a raise for the jobs they VOLUNTEERED to do...but let's be realistic.

hurlehey 12 years, 8 months ago

Hey being a part-time grocery clerk who can't make management doesn't pay so well, give Rundle a raise!

Steve Jacob 12 years, 8 months ago

But, the County Commision I think gets paid much more, like double or triple, and they have much less budget and problems to deal with

hurlehey 12 years, 8 months ago

Maybe Highburger can pay them in REAL dollars!

onehotmomma 12 years, 8 months ago

I don't think most taxpayers would have a problem with a reasonable percentage raise, but 60-100%??

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 12 years, 8 months ago

Way too much money for what they do, which is find ways to interfere in peoples lives. Then they find more ways to screw them and try and control even more aspects of their lives. Thank God I live out in the county, which is not as bad. They do listen to your complaints and problems. More importantly, they are usually pleasant while doing it. I only had bad experiences with 2 county employees in thirty years or so. Not bad.

LawrenceMommy 12 years, 8 months ago

Observer - Lynn731 DOES have a right to bitch because he/she is paying their salaries, too. I assume they doesn't completely avoid Lawrence to do all of their shopping and Lawrence gets a separate sales tax. Basically, anyone living, working, or shopping in Lawrence is paying the salaries of our "esteemed" City Council and has a right to bitch about the value of the product they're receiving for their money. I think it sucks, but that's just my opinion.

LawrenceMommy 12 years, 8 months ago

Oops...that should read "they don't"...I edited my post and forgot to change that word to match.

DKAG 12 years, 8 months ago

I would like to know how one can get a job in the town of Lawrence and also afford to live there? I have to commute to OP myself just to make ends meet, but with gas prices the way they are, it's becoming less and less attractive. I say give them their raise if they'll actually do something for the citizens of Lawrence and not just for the special interest groups. Liberals and conservatives alike, we all gotta pay the rent! By the way, if they don't do the job, then vote em out next time!!!

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