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Eagle Mtn. City Council delays vote on pay raise

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EAGLE MOUNTAIN — City Council members in Eagle Mountain could soon see an 85 percent increase in their city salaries — but not everyone on the council agrees a raise is necessary.

At a City Council meeting last Tuesday night, council members voted 3-2 to delay making a decision that would increase their salaries and set a new pay scale for Eagle Mountain Mayor Don Richardson. They didn't want to vote until they could receive more comparative information.

Richardson requested the city to set a salary that would apply to himself and future mayors who serve part time for the city, instead of being paid on an hourly basis.

Richardson said he didn't think it was right to collect a full-time salary for his part- time work as mayor. "I didn't think it was honest or fair," he said.

"I'm trying to establish a salary for a part-time mayor so we don't have to punch the clock."

Eagle Mountain city code allows its full-time mayors to be paid $69,982, which includes about $20,000 of benefits.

When Richardson took office in November 2006, as mayor, he worked full-time for about five weeks, then resumed his normal career and switched to working a little more than 20 hours a week for the city.

Richardson suggested cutting the salary in half — to $34,991 — to accommodate a part-time position, but council members were hesitant to permanently approve the salary because it is significantly higher than the salaries of other part-time mayors in the area.

"I think the mayor just said, 'I'm working half the time, I'll take half the pay.' I don't think he had any idea what the cities' (mayors) around us make," said Councilwoman Heather Jackson. "I can see how he came to that conclusion. I just think being new to being a mayor and being new to politics, he hadn't looked at the whole picture."

For now, Richardson is paid about $33 an hour.

Saratoga Springs' part-time mayor receives $750 a month, Lehi's mayor receives about $800 a month and Alpine's mayor receives $800 a month — but City Council members in those cities are paid more monthly than those in Eagle Mountain.

Council members in those cities monthly receive $500, $750 and $400, respectively, while Eagle Mountain Council members receive $325 a month.

As part of a recent budget amendment that gives about $152,000 from sales and property tax funds to pay for an increase in the lagging salaries of Eagle Mountain city employees, a recommendation was made to increase the monthly wages of its City Council members.

"(City employees) looked around a little bit and noticed their salaries were less," Richardson said. "During our wage study, we thought it was time to raise (the City Council members' salaries) up to other areas in other cities. It's up to (the council) how they want to do that. If they don't want it, then they can vote that down. If they do want it, they can vote it in."

At Tuesday's meeting, Councilman Vincent Liddiard suggested that the council pass an ordinance that would set a part-time mayor's salary at $3,000 a month and raise the council's salary from $325 to $600 — but his motion failed.

Councilwoman Linn Strouse said the council didn't need the pay raise, and Jackson agreed.

"At this point in time, I don't see the necessity in increasing our salary," Jackson said. "Currently, the amount of money I get per month covers my phone bill and that's about it, but I'm not sitting on the City Council to make money. I'm sitting on the City Council to do a service for the city."

The council is expected to make a decision on the issue in an upcoming meeting, but no exact date for the discussion has yet been scheduled.

E-mail: achoate@desnews.com