Sitka: Assembly gives preliminary OK to pay increase

Posted: Sunday, July 07, 2002

Assembly members approved an ordinance on Tuesday, June 25, that increases their pay by 400 percent.

The proposal was in the consent agenda the Assembly approved early in the meeting without discussion.

The ordinance, which was sponsored by Administrator Tony Zimmer, will be up for public hearing and final adoption at the next Assembly meeting.

Assembly members currently receive $100 a month, with the mayor getting an extra $150. The proposal would raise the pay for all members to $500, and the mayor would continue to get an additional $150. If approved, the new pay scale would go into effect after the next city election.

Zimmer said after Assembly members brought the issue up recently that he decided to put it in the form of an ordinance for discussion at a regular meeting.

Under the "purpose" section, the ordinance states:

"Over the years, the time demands of serving on the Assembly have significantly increased. The Assembly not only attends regular meetings, but a number of work sessions and various committee meetings where Assembly members serve as liaisons."

Zimmer also included in the Assembly information packet a list of stipends paid to Assembly members throughout the state. They ranged from $75 per meeting in Haines and Petersburg; to $200 per meetings, plus $100 per special meeting, and $100 monthly stipend in the City of Ketchikan.

Other cities paid a flat $500 per month, or $6,000 per year, according to the chart provided by Zimmer. In some cases the mayor is paid extra.

"You're not supposed to get rich," said Zimmer. "But inflation marches on."

The last time the Assembly received pay raises was 1979. Before then, Assembly members received $25 per meeting, plus $5 for special meetings, and $10 for work sessions.

Mayor Valorie Nelson, who regularly opposes new expenditures for the city, said she was not sure who proposed the raise.

"I have mixed feelings," she said. "It should be a labor of love. Most people get involved because they want to make a difference. It shouldn't be a money issue."

But she added that the job is a large time commitment.

"I understand where (the sponsors) are coming from, but it's a risk you take when you put your name in the hat," she said. "I'm not sure how I'm going to vote on it."

"We've all talked about it," Assembly member Thor Christianson said. "I'm undecided on it. Whether we'll do it, I don't know."

"It's a heavy number of hours if you're doing your homework and attending all the meetings," said Doris Bailey. "I'm interested in what the public has to say."

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