In display of fiscal prudence, mayor, City Council forgo raises | ParkRecord.com

In display of fiscal prudence, mayor, City Council forgo raises

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council did not accept raises in their City Hall salaries, forgoing the increases in a display of fiscal prudence on Thursday as they continued crafting the municipal budget amid dwindling revenues.

The City Council set their salaries and the mayor’s pay for City Hall’s next fiscal year at the same level as now. The five members of the City Council will each still earn approximately $11,633 per year. The mayor, meanwhile, will continue with his $23,007 annually.

The elected officials normally vote themselves slight raises when they decide their salaries. Not doing so this year is seen as an acknowledgement of the difficulties City Hall has had in the economic downturn. The City Council vote on the salaries was unanimous.

More regular Parkites have seemed to follow the budget talks this year than in the past, but the Thursday meeting was sparsely attended following several budget hearings that had drawn crowds. Nobody testified about the compensation for Williams and the City Council.

"What the message is we understand this is a tough time," Williams said in an interview afterward. "This is a tough year. The community’s hurting."

forgoing the raises, City Hall saves $22,717, according to a report submitted to the elected officials prior to the vote. The money will be shifted to a fund that pays for travel on official business. The mayor said his raise would have brought him another approximately $2,300 over the next 12 months.

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Voting themselves raises this year would likely have been a politically risky move by the City Councilors. There have been widespread cuts in the City Hall budget as City Manager Tom Bakaly has balanced the spending plan without the increase in the property-tax rate that he had requested at the outset of the budget talks.

Although most City Hall staffers will receive raises, critics of the city government might have been further riled by the prospects of increased salaries for the mayor and City Council.

Bakaly and City Attorney Mark Harrington, meanwhile, showed solidarity with the elected officials, also giving up their raises. Bakaly will continue to earn up to $135,980 annually while Harrington’s salary will stay at up to $132,131. They are the top two earners at City Hall.

Williams and the City Council spent extensive time discussing City Hall salaries at an earlier meeting, weighing the idea of across-the-board raises against the idea that many people in the private sector are not receiving raises. They had not discussed their salaries in the same detail.

The budget talks are scheduled to continue through June 17, when the City Council is expected to vote on a final budget. The budget talks this year, which have extended since the spring, focused on topics like the possibility of a property-tax increase, which has since been rejected, and funding for the renovation of the Racquet Club.

The six elected officials are also eligible for family medical and dental insurance, and they are allowed to convert the cost of the insurance into cash. If they decide to take the cash instead of the benefits, they receive another $13,680 annually. That figure, though, may drop starting in July as City Hall rolls out a new health plan.

The mayor receives a $250 per month car allowance and is paid $100 for each wedding he performs.

Williams said he is unsure whether the decision to forgo the raises will resonate with Parkites.

"I don’t know that to the average Park City person this will mean much one way or the other," the mayor said.

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