New County Council will receive $29K
January 16, 2009
The five part-time Summit County councilpersons have voted to set their annual salaries at $29,000 each.
The form of government in Summit County changed in January from the former three-person County Commission to a five-member council/manager model.
The County Council is paid much less than members of the Summit County Commission, who each received compensation packages last year worth about $75,000.
"The total compensation for the 2009 year, if the three commissioners were still in place, would have been $269,000," said Democrat John Hanrahan, chairman of the Summit County Council. "This council wants to lead by example and take a cut from that budgeted amount."
Councilpersons instead will earn $29,000 plus retirement benefits, Hanrahan said, adding that they will not receive health insurance.
"This is a compromise, and it’s a compromise that meets the needs, I think, of all of us, yet saves the county a substantial amount of money," Summit County Councilwoman Sally Elliott said.
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A tentative council compensation package approved by the County Commission last year included a salary of $30,000 and roughly $15,000 in benefits.
But that was too high, said Hoytsville resident Mike Crittenden, who served on the committee that recommended the form of government change.
Public officials in Summit County are overpaid compared with neighboring counties of a similar size, Crittenden said.
"We feel very much like we are more like other destination resort places," Elliott countered. "We’re more like Salt Lake County than we are like Morgan County."
Councilpersons in Salt Lake County, which had a population of 927,564, earned $29,256 in 2005, Crittenden said.
"I like the notion that we are not taking the health and other benefits that a full-time person would collect I think it’s the right example," Summit County Councilman Chris Robinson said. "We’re going to earn every penny of it, but I think we’re very grateful to have the opportunity to serve."
The new councilors are Democrats Hanrahan, Elliott, Robinson and Claudia McMullin and Republican David Ure. Ure made the motion Wednesday to approve the compensation package, which Elliott seconded.
North Summit resident Glen Brown, a former speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, criticized the decision in a telephone interview Friday.
"I think it’s more than adequate," Brown said about the $29,000 salary. "It’s only a part-time assignment and given the economic times we’re in and the transition that we’re going to, I think it’s higher than it should have been."