Carbondale trustee pay is on its way up
In a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, Carbondale Town Council members gave future members a 50 percent pay increase.
The raise is the first since 2000 and brings trustees up to $900 monthly and the mayor to $1,500. It won’t take effect until the next term for each position, meaning that the current trustees would need to be re-elected to benefit and the general fund won’t feel the full impact until 2018.
Public comment at the meeting was largely, though not exclusively, supportive.
“I am strongly in favor of the increase,” Barbara Dills said. “I think open conversations about money and compensation are very important even if they’re very uncomfortable.”
Richard Votero was similarly supportive.
“We all expect excellence from our elected representatives,” he said. “This board deals with so many complicated issues and so much information. It’s a shoo-in that you ought to be compensated more well than you are now.”
Former trustee candidate Wayne Horak was against the move.
“I’m fearful that we will have more regulation the more you get paid,” he said.
Tom Adgate also was opposed, though for a different reason. He called the proposal “the height of hypocrisy” for Trustee Allyn Harvey, whose Post Independent column this month discouraged voters from supporting the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District’s upcoming mill-levy increase.
While Harvey may have brought the issue forward, he was far from the board’s sole proponent.
“We’re not voting this for ourselves,” John Hoffman said. “We’re voting for the future of the board.”
Katrina Byars agreed.
“I think it’s meaningful that we don’t give the raise to ourselves,” she said. “I wish that was the case all the way up.”
Byars said she was initially uncomfortable with the size of the increase but soon discovered that inflation adjustment alone would account for most of it — as much as $830, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — to say nothing of the local cost of living.
“What we do is significant,” Byars said. “Every decision we make has impacts throughout the community.”
For Pam Zentmeyer, that wasn’t really the issue.
“I can’t get past the fact that we’re the only governing board that does get paid and we’re talking about paying ourselves more,” she said. “I don’t think it’s about monetary compensation. I think it’s a volunteer position.”
Harvey, mayor pro tem, who led the meeting in Mayor Stacey Bernot’s absence, sympathized with her position but continued to support the increase.
“It’s been a long time,” he said. “I don’t think $900 a month is a huge amount of money. If we didn’t pass this tonight … it might be until 2020 until the conversation happens again.”
In the end, Hoffman, Byars, Harvey and Frosty Merriott voted in favor, and Zentmeyer cast the dissenting vote.
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