Despite the objections of a single South Jordan resident at a city council’s public hearing, the council recently approved a salary hike for the part-time mayor and the rest of the elected officials
Councilmember Steve Barnes was the sole member who voted against the measure. He wanted to have the increase go into effect in early 2016 when the officials had been in their positions longer.
After comparing numbers with other cities in the Salt Lake Valley, and reviewing populations, the salaries and the percentages that those current salaries take up in a city’s budget, South Jordan’s newly formed compensation committee made a recommendation that the police department, fire department and elected officials be given an increase in pay.
The committee was formed in 2014. Prior to this, pay raises were taken care of the city’s human resources department.
Former city council member Larry Short angrily told the mayor and city council that a raise in salary for the elected officials was not in the best interest of the people of South Jordan.
“You knew what the pay was, and you knew it wasn’t full time when you took these jobs,” Short said.
Upon listening to Councilmember Chris Rogers use salary comparisons of neighboring towns, Short became even more frustrated.
“I didn’t know you had to keep up with the Joneses and where other cities are at,” he said. “If you start taking more and more, residents will have to pay more and more.”
Short insisted that he had no problem with a new step pay plan that will boost salaries for the city’s emergency responders.
Chief of Staff Paul Cunningham was a proponent of giving a raise to police officers and firefighters. He said it was much needed in order to hold on to many of the employees.
“We were losing many good officers and firefighters to other cities due to their rate of pay,” he said.
Rogers, who formulated a table using elected officials’ salaries from 15 cities in the Salt Lake Valley including numbers from Salt Lake County officials, went through the comparisons at the council meeting.
“Fire department, police department, city council and mayor recommendations [from the committee] were unanimous,” he said.
Rogers was happy with the results of the committee’s study on salaries.
“It was a complete evaluation in my mind, and it was a fair evaluation. Nobody goes into public office to make money. What we tried to do is to try to put us in the middle, using data, not conjecture,” he said.
However, Short was not swayed by this reasoning. He was still upset by the health insurance benefits for the officials.
“You seem to be getting more and more benefits from this than you deserve,” he said. “You’ll be getting more benefits than a full-time employee of the city.”
Despite Short’s remarks, the council voted 4-1 to approve the salary increases.
Along with a cost-of-living pay raise of 2.75 percent, health insurance coverage for the mayor and council members will include an 80 to 20 split with a similar cash-out option.
“Just as for all other South Jordan employees,” Rogers said.
A monthly stipend for “personal communication devices” use was also agreed upon.
The new salaries went into effect on Jan.1.
Annual pay rate for area elected officials as of Sept. 9, 2014:
South Jordan $11,676
West Jordan $9,776