LOGAN – Members of the Logan City Council had little to say Tuesday as they voted themselves a pay raise.
The only challenger for an at-large council seat in the upcoming municipal election was not similarly tight-lipped, however.
“Perhaps in the name of modesty,” said community activist Keegan Garrity after the unanimous vote, “some (council members) feel a desire to express reluctance for receiving pay for public service.
“Yet, when it comes time to vote for a raise, there are no objections, nor is anyone eager to give away their financial windfall.”
During a rapid-paced meeting Tuesday when council members dealt with several end-of-fiscal year housekeeping items, City Resolution 21-31 raising elected officials annual compensation by 3 percent was passed with no public comment and no debate among council members.
While acknowledging that voting themselves a pay raise might seem “distasteful,” Logan finance director Richard Anderson urged city council members to accept the pay bump as a necessary step toward bringing compensation of city officials into line with that of peer municipalities throughout Utah.
The increase will hike Mayor Holly Daines’ annual salary by about $3,000 from $99,468 to $102,452, with an unchanged $6,000 vehicles expense allowance. Council members’ annual compensation would increase by less than $500, from $15,606 to $16,074 with an unchanged $300 car allowance.
Ambrie Darley, the city’s human resources director, emphasized that pay increase for elected officials is in line with the city’s 3 percent increase for all its employees in fiscal year 2021-2022.
While acknowledging the legality of the council members approving the pay raise, Garrity nevertheless deplored the usual associated political theatrics.
“An oft-repeated assertion that you’ll often hear from elected council members is that they supposedly didn’t realize that they would be compensated until they took office,” he explained. “Having recently applied to run for a council seat, I can tell you that information is right there in the packet (from the city recorder’s office).
“Sometimes, as was the case tonight, you’ll even hear a council member state that they aren’t certain of the amount of compensation they currently receive. I don’t know about your house, but in mine I know exactly how much I get paid …”
Even with the newly-approved pay increase, Darley said that the compensation for Logan elected officials still lags behind that of other similar municipalities because the local council refused to approve pay hikes for a decade after the nationwide economic collapse in 2008.
Anderson suggested that if members of the council were reluctant to accept the pay raise, they should consider donating the amount of the increase to a worthy local charity.
Garrity said that he plans to take that advice to heart.
“If elected, I won’t be taking pay for the first 100 days in office,” he announced. “I figure that my take-home pay after taxes and withholdings will be somewhere north of $1,000. So I’ve decided that each month for first three months of my term, I will donate $1,000 to a charity.
“People can submit nominations for that charity and then I will take a poll to determine where those dollars should go. After those 100 days are up, I will ask the public if they feel that I have earned my pay and then do my best to implement the feedback I receive.”
The new pay scale for Logan elected officials and employees will take effect July 1.
Garrity will face off against incumbent city council members Amy Z. Anderson and Ernesto López in the upcoming municipal election on Nov. 2.