Skip to main content

Upcoming public hearing to address mayor and city council salary increases

Apr 03, 2022 07:17PM ● By Bill Hardesty

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

A public hearing on increasing the mayor's and council members' salaries is scheduled for the March 23 South Salt Lake City Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. The salary increases were proposed during the Feb. 23 and March 9 council meetings.

Mayor salary increase

After repealing the Elected Officials' Compensation Commission with a 6-1 vote during the regular council meeting on Feb. 23, the council turned their attention to the mayor's compensation.

Their discussion began with reviewing a salary comparison of eight cities with a strong mayor/council form of government. While Mayor Cherie Wood is the longest-serving mayor, she is also the lowest paid. The mayor's salary is set by ordinance at $81,492. Taylorsville's mayor is next lowest at $93,367. Salt Lake City is the highest at $151,578. In an article in March’s South Salt Lake City Journal, the mayor has not received a salary increase, including any cost of living adjustments (COLA), since 2011.

The comparison chart also showed that every other city have a Chief Administration Officer (CAO) to handle all city's internal employment actions. SSL does not have one. Instead, the mayor handles both mayoral duties, such as policy issues and representing the city with other government entities and administrative responsibilities for the city. In all cases, the CAO is paid more than the mayor.

"This literally is the definition of wage theft," Natalie Pinkney, council member at-large, said.

While there was consensus that the mayor's salary should be increased, the dollar amount was debatable. Shane Siwik, District 5, pushed for a minor increase. Others added up the missed COLAs, which totaled around $118,000. However, the majority suggested going midrange on the comparison. The figure they suggested was $130,000. This is a 37% increase and puts the SSL mayor between Murray's and Sandy's mayors.

When asked how to pay for an increase, Wood pointed out there are available funds this year due to Kyle Kershaw's retirement. Crystal Makin, the city’s director of finance, suggested that any increase could be paid for by future sales tax revenue.

"I don't foresee that we will need to do any type of budget amendments to cover this year," Makin said. "Going forward for future years, we would likely cover that out of our sales tax that we collect each year. As of our August collections, we were trailing about 8% ahead of last year's collections on our sales tax. I think at this point, we may be closer to 10% ahead."

Council members' salary increase

The council looked at their compensation in the March 9 meeting. They used the same methodology of a comparison chart. SSL is the lowest at $11,352. Orem is next lowest at $14,705. Salt Lake City is the highest at $36,650.

The council members also have not received any salary increase since 2011.

Most of the council favored moving to the median salary of $17,431. This would be a 34.8% increase.

"I am OK with where it is now," Siwik said.

Corey Thomas, District 2, felt $17,431 was too high. She voiced she was more comfortable with $15,000 or $16,000.

Makin suggested using sales tax revenue. However, she did voice some concern about the amount given the current world and national situation.

The council voted 6-1 to move the issue to the next council meeting under unfinished business and to include it as part of the March 23 public hearing.