Council to discuss pay of elected officials

The Jefferson City Council will discuss a proposal to nearly eliminate the pay for city elected officials, but whether the bill will gain momentum is questionable.

At the City Council meeting Monday night, the bill to reduce the salary of council members and the mayor to $1 per year will be introduced. The bill is sponsored by 3rd Ward Councilman Bryan Pope, who will leave the council next month.

Currently, City Council members receive $450 per month and the mayor received $900 per month. According to the city charter, “the council shall determine the annual compensation of councilmen by ordinance, but the salary of a councilman shall not be increased or diminished during his term.” The charter also states “the salary of the mayor shall be fixed by ordinance, and shall not be increased or diminished during the mayor’s term of office.” Council members and the mayor are both able to receive “reasonable reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses.”

Pope said earlier this week that he would offer the bill if someone was willing to co-sponsor it. On Thursday morning, Pope said he has not received any co-sponsors, but offered the bill anyway.

On Thursday morning, the council also heard from Rod Chapel,

president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, on the issue. Chapel urged the council to study the issue of salaries for elected officials before any decisions are made. He said several community members have brought up concerns about the proposal and suggested the issue be opened up to public comment.

“I have great concern about this,” Chapel said. “I don’t know that this is the way you want to go.”

Chapel said pay is directly proportional to the effort given by elected officials and if the city wants to attract qualified professionals to serve, salaries should be included. Chapel said many need a steady income and can not serve unless compensation will make up for any loss of wages or time.

“Do you want to send a message that if you want to be involved in city government, it’s going to come at the expense of something else?” Chapel asked. “We don’t need any additional constraints on the ability of people to serve.”

In other business, the council will hear the annual financial report Monday from the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s economic development contract with the city was cut by $15,000 earlier this month as part of a series of budget cuts to make up for a $1.68 million shortfall in this fiscal year’s budget.

The council also will continue discussions on the conference center selection process at Monday night’s meeting. At a work session earlier this week, the council approved a tentative timeline for the process, hoping to make a final decision on the proposed facility by July 1. The council will discuss whether to contract with an outside group to act as facilitator during the evaluation phase.


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