Vickery: Show us the money!
Aspen City Council member Jake Vickery believes those who serve Aspen should be paid twice what they’re paid now.
And to “get the discussion going” he has put the issue on tonight’s City Council agenda.
Currently, the City Council members are paid $1,200 per month ($14,400 per year) for their work for the city, while the mayor is paid $1,725 ($20,700 per year).
“I think it should be at least $28,800 for the council,” he said. “That’s double what it is now.” He had no proposed salary figure for the mayor’s position.
Vickery said he and his fellow council members have not previously discussed the matter. But, he said, “What’s going on is the workload for council has gotten larger and larger.”
Aside from attending City Council meetings twice a month and acting as liaison for other policy advisory boards, such as the housing board and the Roaring Fork Transit Agency board, council members have “become a kind of regional spokesmen for the city,” Vickery explained.
“The level of responsibility is increasing,” said Vickery, who is hoping to retain his council seat in the May election. “It all requires more research, more involvement. I think [council salaries] have been way low for a real long time.”
Plus, he said, “You can’t do this job halfway. You have to do your homework.”
Council salaries were last raised in 1996, when they went up from $800 per month to the current $1,200. At that time, the mayor’s monthly salary rose from $1,150 to $1,725. The council members also received a raise in 1993.
Vickery prompted this discussion by asking City Attorney John Worcester to draft an ordinance and put it on the agenda. He said he believes the salaries should go up to reflect the amount of work involved and to prompt interest in public service among local residents.
“If you let it be, it could be a full-time thing,” he said of the work involved. Vickery said he has gotten into financial difficulty recently because he devotes “two full days” every week to city business rather than his architectural business.
“I’m not saying you should make money on council,” he said, “but you shouldn’t be penalized for doing public service. I know it’s a big jump, but things are changing around here.”
He said he believes the council works just as hard as the Pitkin County commissioners, but the commissioners earn more money.
Presently, three county commissioners earn $24,600 a year, while two others who were elected last year have been granted a raise to approximately $36,000 per year.
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