Mayor, city council get pay raise

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Move brings salaries in line with surrounding jurisdictions

The city council and mayor of Centennial are getting pay raises, the first in the city’s 12-year history.

The increases, approved in a 6-2 vote on July 15, range between 42 and 56 percent, and will add $37,430 to the city budget. The mayor’s post will pay about $5,800 more a year, the mayor pro tem job will see a raise of about $4,000, and other councilmember posts will get an increase of $3,600.

Although the additional jingle won’t kick in until 2016 because the city’s home rule charter prohibits councilmembers from voting pay raises during their current terms, the move is meant to align Centennial’s elected-official compensation with that of 14 similarly sized communities within the Denver metropolitan area.

District 2 Councilmember Keith Garner, who voted against the increase, said for him, the job was more about serving the community than it was about the pay.

“I understand we’re probably on the low side of what we’re supposed to be paid,” Gardner said. “Myself, I don’t do it for money, I do it for enjoyment; it’s something I want to do and when I ran, I decided there were just certain things I would incur as a cost to do something I love, so I will be voting no on this.”

Centennial resident Jim Hargis thinks the salary bump is warranted.

“I support the motion to increase the pay,” Hargis said. “I have seen firsthand the hours required are extensive … the work the council does is substantial.”

Rebecca McClellan, District 3 councilmember, suggested the additional pay would open the doors for more people to serve by helping cover personal costs such as child care.

“I know that everyone’s circumstances are different, but in my early days of service, when my children were little, many times when I was here, I had a babysitter on the clock,” said McClellan. “I’m pleased that we’ll be doing something to possibly open up the avenue for community service and participation to a greater proportion of our citizens.”

District 1 Councilmember Vorry Moon said travel costs are a concern, based on the number of events and meetings councilmembers must attend.

“What we’re compensated for now barely covers the gas for my SUV,” Moon said. “I think it serves more of a purpose of lessening the burden of serving than as an incentive to encourage others to run (for office).”

The new ordinance also amends City Council compensation and benefit eligibility. Councilmembers will also be eligible to receive a city contribution toward health benefits at the same rate as part-time employees.

Councilmembers Gardner and Weidmann did not support the measure.

Mayor Cathy Noon, having declared her candidacy in the upcoming election, recused herself from the discussion, stating she wanted to avoid the appearance of any impropriety.

BREAKOUT BOX

Elected official pay increase by the numbers*

Monthly salary effective Nov 6, 2001

Mayor $850 

Mayor Pro Tem $750 

Councilmember $700 

Monthly salary effective Jan. 1, 2016 

Mayor $1,334 

Mayor Pro Tem  $1,084 

Councilmember $1,000 

Source: City of Centennial.