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Council considers pay raise

City Council members may see a healthy pay increase thanks to a bill introduced at Tuesday’s meeting.

If approved during the May 26 meeting, the two council members who win office June 2 will make $27,000 per year. The two other seats, which are occupied by Councilmen Cam Walker and Duncan McCoy, would not receive a raise until after the 2017 election.

According to Section 6 of the city’s charter, the council may determine the salaries of the council members and the mayor, but no such adjustments can take place until after the following election.

According to Transparent Nevada, a website showing the salary of the state’s public employees, the average base pay for a Boulder City council member is about $11,000 per year. With benefits, the total is $14,672. As mayor, Roger Tobler makes about $14,000 per year in base pay and $18,202 with benefits.

The proposed pay raise to $27,000 would nearly double what council members make now.

City Manager Dave Fraser said Councilman Rod Woodbury was the one who inquired about the pay raise, though he didn’t request a certain amount, Fraser said.

Woodbury said he spoke to residents for several months and asked whether they would run for a spot on the council. He said everyone he spoke to gave him the same response, citing that they couldn’t afford to run for only $11,000 per year.

“We’re way below what other jurisdictions are, and it’s important that we get it out there and talk about it,” Woodbury said.

The number of candidates running for the Boulder City Council has dropped dramatically during the past six years. Five people ran for the two council vacancies in 2011 after 10 candidates ran in both 2007 and 2009.

McCoy and Walker ran unopposed during their re-election bids in 2013, and just three candidates are vying for the two vacancies this year. And with term limits preventing Tobler from seeking re-election, Woodbury was the only candidate to run for mayor.

With salary, retirement benefits and travel, along with a few other expenditures, about $123,000 will be spent to pay the council this year. That amount equals 0.4 percent of the city’s approximate $30 million budget.

In 2001, a voter initiative was passed to ensure that council members were reimbursed for their travel by mileage as opposed to the $350 monthly stipend they once received. Federal law requires they be reimbursed for their travel expenses.

City staff reviewed the pay of nine municipalities across the state to determine how much pay would accurately reflect the work of the Boulder City Council.

Fraser said Fernley, Elko, Mesquite, Winnemucca and Fallon all had characteristics similar to Boulder City, which is how the $27,000 came to be. The average annual council pay with benefits for those five jurisdictions was $26,693. The mayor’s pay was $30,275 annually, city records show.

“You could make the argument that Fallon is most similar to us because they’re the only one with an electric utility, but you could also make the argument that Mesquite is most similar to us. Population is the same, they’re in our county, their councilmen sit on the same boards and commissions that ours do,” Fraser said. “You could make an argument that all of these are very similar. These are good comparisons.”

But not all supported the potential pay raise, including Walker, who said he wasn’t involved in talks to increase the council’s pay.

“The overview says the City Council requested this, and I don’t know how those decided that the City Council requested this, but I was not involved in it, nor did I request this,” he said.

Woodbury said he hadn’t spoken with Walker much about the issue.

“Seemed like he wanted to distance himself from it, but I don’t really know the reason,” Woodbury said. “We’re just going to talk about it. I don’t know how everyone’s going to come down on it. I just think the primary reason for this is that we’re not getting people to run for office, and that’s something we really need to look at.”

In other news, the council approved an amendment in the city’s Land Management Plan that adds an additional 1,115 acres of city-owned land for solar development in the Eldorado Valley.

The item was first discussed during the March 24 meeting, but needed Planning Commission approval before further action could be taken. The commission recommended the approval April 15.

Also, 13-year-old Karson Bailey was honored for winning the state basketball free throw contest as part of the St. Andrew’s Council of the Knights of Columbus youth contest. Isabel Patten, 10; Alena Shafer, 11; Isabella Arsanian, 13; and Cheyenne Keckler, 14, were honored for winning the state soccer challenge.

Jamey Lien was also recognized for winning this year’s Historic Preservation Award for the renovations she made to her house at 1336 Colorado St.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com or 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka.

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