RAWLINS – How much is your time worth? For many of us, we have the exact number 40 hours of our week are sold for.
Tuesday’s city council meeting saw a resolution presented and passed, changing the value of their time by raising the monthly wages of mayor and council by $250.
The resolution to raise wages of city officials met with little fanfare or discussion, despite council raises proving a contentious topic historically.
Citizen’s participation had a single individual, Tonya Lumen, speak, and even then, her comments on the raise served only as brief rap-up to her speech.
Lumen has taken the stand during public comment many times throughout her life-long residency in Rawlins, with many of her recent speeches questioning the city and its recent decisions that have resulted in legal fees.
On this issue, however, Lumen spoke in favor of the raise, citing the nearly two-decade gap between raise proposals and the proposed increase being reasonable increase in her mind.
The resolution swiftly passed once brought before the council for vote, with only councilperson Linda Smith casting her ballot against the issue.
For many members of Rawlins’ city council, they have the dollar amount they sell their 40 hours a week, working full-time to support their families, and yet, they also dedicate an enormous amount of their free time to ensuring the municipality continues to function. Between two-hour workshops, three-hour meetings, and contentious executive sessions lasting well into the early hours of the morning, the demands of a city council are high.
As such, it may surprise some to find out the city council receives $500 and the mayor $750 every month. Some may find the total value surprisingly small, others may find elected officials earning any amount surprising.
“Frankly, I thought you did all this for free,” said Lumen during Tuesday’s meeting.
As previously reported, councilperson DeBari Martinez requested city manager Scott Hannum draft the resolution during May 21’s workshop.
Martinez stated the mayor and council’s wages have seen no change in 18 years, and this the time seemed right to change it given the previous year’s budgets providing enough surplus to pay the increase.
Smith raised concerns regarding the sustainability of these raises during the May workshop, questioning if the increase could affect future budget planning, given the gap between when the resolution would take effect and now.
“I don’t want to be giving out raises if we’re having issues with income,” Smith said during the May 21 workshop.
Hannum stated at the workshop the proposed raises were miniscule among this year’s charges totaling more than $36 million.
“In the overall picture, (the raise) is a pretty minimal amount,” said Hannum the May workshop.
The raise will take effect in January of 2021 for the mayor, vice mayor, and Ward 1, after the election cycle for those seats, while the remainder of the council’s seats will see the benefit after their next election in 2023.
Other discussions or actions:
• The second reading of the 2019-2020 fiscal year budget passed with two changes. As the Urban Deer Removal Plan passed during the last meeting, the project’s cost was redesignated from a placeholder charge, thus leaving the total budget cost the same. A $6,500 raise for the Rawlins Police Department was added to the budget, though the funds were taken from a larger expense to more accurately express the needs of RPD in the budget. As such, the budget total remains $36,825,341.
• The Parks Department was approved to purse a bid of $28,033 half-ton pick up from Greiner Ford of Casper.
• A bid for a new mower for the Rochelle Ranch Golf Course and green spaces was approved from Scott’s Equipment from Evanston, for a total of $16,400.
• During the workshop prior to the meeting, Hannum and the city council discussed the progress of pothole filling, as well as their plans to lessen the degradation of roads to expensive to repair without major investment from the city. Hannum stated the pothole work would continue unabated as long as the weather held.