Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Departing commissioner urges debate on increasing pay of Lawrence city commissioners

April 9, 2013

Advertisement

As City Commissioner Aron Cromwell completes the final days of his term, he has a parting thought: Lawrence city commissioner really ought to be paid more.

Cromwell at Tuesday night’s meeting urged the next group of city commissioners to seriously discuss a pay raise that perhaps would more than triple the current $9,000 per year salary that commissioners receive.

“Right now, I think it would be very difficult for somebody like a schoolteacher or someone with a traditional job to take this position,” Cromwell said. “You probably would have to take a leave of absence to do the job effectively.”

After the meeting, Cromwell said he thought the next city commission should consider raising the annual salary to somewhere between $25,000 and $35,000 per year.

At least two commissioners are open to having the discussion. Mayor Bob Schumm said he thought it is an issue the next commission “should look at fairly quickly.”

City Commissioner Mike Dever — who if tradition holds will be elected mayor by his fellow commissioners at next week’s meeting — said he thought the time was right to consider the issue. The city has not raised its pay for commissioners — $9,000 per year for commissioners and $10,000 for the mayor position — since 1999.

“We don’t do it for the money,” Dever said, “but I agree that the amount of time it takes to do this job is not commensurate with the pay.”

Dever said he would present some information about how much commissioners are paid in other communities. Douglas County commissioners, for example, are paid more than $30,000 a year, he said.

“I would say, at a minimum, we spend an equal amount of time,” Dever said.

City Commissioner Mike Amyx — who recently was re-elected to a fifth term on the commission — expressed concern about boosting the pay.

“We need to make sure that we don’t cross that line of having full-time commissioners down here,” Amyx said. “We are all citizen commissioners, and that is the charter that we operate under.”

Other commissioners agreed that the job should continue to be viewed as a part-time profession. But Cromwell said the salary is likely a barrier to entry for many people. He estimated an average commissioner had at least $4,000 a year in expenses, such as transportation, wireless phone bills, Internet service and other such items that are routinely used as part of the position but aren’t reimbursed by the city.

“I think a salary for a city commissioner ought to be enough to cover our expenses and pay a baby sitter while you are at the meetings,” Cromwell said. “It is not currently.”

On the current commission, four of the five commissioners are business owners, while the fifth — Commissioner Hugh Carter — was a financial adviser with a flexible schedule during the bulk of his term.

Cromwell and Carter both will be leaving the commission — neither sought re-election — after next week’s meeting. Recent election winners Jeremy Farmer, the executive director of the food bank Just Food, and Terry Riordan, a Lawrence physician, will be sworn in next week.

In other news from Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners unanimously approved $9.7 million in bids for the library expansion project.

Comments

Carol Bowen 1 year ago

  • I have not read much county commission news. Do they meet weekly? I suspect they are paid too much.

  • The city commissioners do not receive enough compensation for expenses and time. $25-35k is a rather drastic increase. Something around $15k would be more palatable. that would be an increase of $24k for commissioners and maybe an increase of $8k for the mayor for a total increase of $32k.

  • The money should be identified first. Fewer paper clips?

0

Carol Bowen 1 year ago

  • City commissioners spend lot of time communicating with us via phone, email, letters, visits, and presentations.
  • Commissioners have to study and interpret budget, ordinances, development codes, planning documents, and other legalities.
  • Meetings are weekly. Commission attendance has been very good. These meetings start at 6:45 pm and last until business is done, sometimes very late.
  • in addition to commission meetings, commissioners attend study sessions, task forces, subcommittees, ...
  • then, there's representing the community at the state and national level.
  • Not ever commissioner gets release time from work.

Picture yourself as a commissioner, learning the job under fire. If a commissioner must do this on their own time, we are limiting the pool of candidates, because most of us could not afford the time and the commitment. If you choose not to run for city commission, is it because of the overwhelming fear of winning a seat? I know I could not be a commissioner. No problem. We are lucky some Lawrencians are willing to represent us. If you do not like the commissioners, take the responsibility to run yourself or work for a candidate you support.

0

lawrenceloser 1 year ago

They were suppose to be committed to the citizens of the community, not pay. If you want to get paid then get a job.

1

Number_1_Grandma 1 year ago

Until Lawrence changes it's merry-go-round form of government, the pay should stay the same. After all, the city manager runs the city as he sees fit. He is the day to day person. The commissioners are glorified wannabe politicians. This is why nothing really changes; even though commissioners come and go. The city manager stays the same with uneducated votes of confidence in city manager!

Change to election of 4 yr Mayor Change to election of commissioners for 2 yrs from wards ( different parts of the town ) representing their district.

The Mayor directs city manager of day to day operations. Until we go to something better from our form of government no pay increase! The Mayor only makes appointments to local boards and runs the meetings. This is his ONLY real authority. It takes 3 votes ( Majority ) of commissioners to direct city manager Dave Corliss to do anything.... What a joke!

Change to election of Mayor of 4 yrs and commissioners from wards for 2 yrs!

3

toe 1 year ago

Teachers are among the best paid people in the Lawrence community. I guess a city commissioner aspires to be paid at least as well as a teacher.

0

mom_of_three 1 year ago

$35,000 is $16.82 an hour for 40 hours a week..
now, lots of people don't make that much for a regular job...

6

toe 1 year ago

The pay from developers and the Chamber are more than enough to bridge the need.

5

jcstepmom 1 year ago

I have a problem with the salary of most elected officials. They should be paid no more than they need to be reimbursed for nominal expenses.

1

Catalano 1 year ago

So does everyone here object to the salaries of the County Commissioners?

1

consumer1 1 year ago

Cromwell is not done taking our money! first his get elected agenda of recycling, and now on his way out the door he want's to go for the jugular.

1

btsflk 1 year ago

Some of us exist here on $25,000 and less. Sound impossible? We find it hard to believe it, too.

Before anyone starts screaming about social services, in this case there are none. Before the recession, had a somewhat decent wage - no longer.

When our leaders are treated like kings, they begin to believe they are, and those lesser become invisible.

1

oneeye_wilbur 1 year ago

Cromwell needs $25,000 a year for a babysitter? Is that a live in job?

0

btsflk 1 year ago

Sure, how about a pension and life-time health insurance.

While the city pays a little better wage than businesses overall, I'd be more interested in a city backed initative to raise wages overall in Lawrence. $8-$10 an hour is not a living wage.

Allowing them to raise their own wage is stupidity.

But then, this is a rich man's town.

0

Floyd Craig 1 year ago

bad they want to give them selfs a rasie but the the employees the guys out in the weather don't get to get a nice rqasie n they do the hard work to keep this city going so wh not give them more if they do a good job the city fahers don't need it all they do is set in chairs n deide where n how to spend the money

0

Floyd Craig 1 year ago

bad they want to give them selfs a rasie but the the employees the guys out in the weather don't get to get a nice rqasie n they do the hard work to keep this city going so wh not give them more if they do a good job the city fahers don't need it all they do is set in chairs n deide where n how to spend the money

0

IKU57 1 year ago

What's the big deal? It's government charity. There are all kinds of examples in society of people being paid for not doing anything. Lots of people in society work hard to do nothing for a living. The government check is their way of life. Why shouldn't the elected people that represent these people in society get in on the action? Social fairness dictates they get the pay raise. Or charity.

0

deec 1 year ago

"He estimated an average commissioner had at least $4,000 a year in expenses, such as transportation, wireless phone bills, Internet service and other such items that are routinely used as part of the position but aren’t reimbursed by the city." Is he suggesting the commissioners wouldn't have cell phones or internet service if they weren't commissioners?

The annual salary works out to about 23 hours per week at minimum wage. There are plenty of citizens of Lawrence who are working in the private sector who manage to survive on those wages.

3

Richard Heckler 1 year ago

"“We need to make sure that we don’t cross that line of having full-time commissioners down here,” Amyx said. “We are all citizen commissioners, and that is the charter that we operate under.”

Mike Amyx has been a commissioner so many times. He has been both a county and city commissioner with a total of close to 20 years I'm estimating.

Still I say put this to a vote by the taxpayers....

0

Richard Heckler 1 year ago

Let the taxpayers vote on this. City Commissioners voting to increase their own pay is a major conflict of interest and unethical. The answer is NO to allowing commissioners to raise their own pay.

This question should be on the next ballot as a matter of ethics.

Anyone who goes after this job knows the pay scale.

2

oneeye_wilbur 1 year ago

Btw, if it is taking too much time, that is their own fault, sending each and every issue back and forth. Do they not learn from their study sessions?

0

oneeye_wilbur 1 year ago

Where do these commissioners propose this pay increase come from? And they want health insurance, and KPERs retirement as well.

Answer: They don't care!

0

1yardstare 1 year ago

Rumor has it Carter was canned from his financial adviser job many months ago, no wonder he had a flexible schedule. Potential commission candidates should be screened and only be eligible to enter the race if they are financially stable. I don't object to elected officials being payed but the amount should continue to be fixed at 10k annually any additional pay should go to charity. Champaign contributions also should be controlled with a maximum acceptable limit. All candidate would be under the same restrictions. Keeping the playing field equal, voters would then cast their votes on the candidates and their agenda and not on flashy ads, media saturation, and big money advertising budgets.

1

cowboy 1 year ago

How bout we do a survey at the end of their term and decide whether they earned anything or not.

The commission has become a rubber stamp and pet project committee. When was the last time any commission initiative saved any money ? When was the last time the commission initiated any efficiency programs in city operations ? The truth be told they sit around and react to what it put before them by the city manager and a parade of vested interests.

Get rid of them !

Give us a four year mayor !

10

Brian Hall 1 year ago

I always figured the salary was low so as to keep people from becoming career politicians and claiming "city commissioner" as their job. Raising salaries up to $25-35,000 may convince some commissioner wannabe that they don't need to keep their day job after being elected. If salaries are going to be raised, I'd say at least to $12,000. At most, $15,000.

3

Commenting has been disabled for this item.