Josh Bergeron: Would a salary increase affect candidates for city councils, for city council? – Salisbury Post
There are a number of things that people can count on after winning local elections.
For better or worse, a seat on city council or city council means increased public scrutiny and attention to a person’s actions – past, present and future. It means directly changing public policy and the way local government is run, as well as a bigger megaphone to advocate for change in areas where the person may not have direct authority.
However, being elected to a local elected post does little in terms of pay for an often stressful job that can require the equivalent of a full week’s work several weeks. This is OK for people whose life is otherwise financially stable. For low-income workers or blue-collar workers, it can be more difficult to justify an elected mandate when the pay is low.
I generally think that candidates for a local office are primarily interested in public service rather than how much they get paid (running for Congress if you want a six-figure salary), but it’s still worth thinking about the pay issue as the municipal election unfolds. The elections officially began on Friday when the candidacy was opened for candidates who wish to sit on the board of directors of their city or municipality. Filing continues until July 16.
Candidates who want to run will pay between $ 5 and $ 60 to put their name on the ballot. In exchange for application fees, countless hours of fundraising, calling people, handshaking and campaigning, candidates could be paid anywhere from nothing to the equivalent of a minimum wage employment.
If you are thinking of looking for an office in Landis this year, the city is planning a budget of $ 7,200 per year to be distributed among all members of city council and the mayor. However, the incumbents agreed not to receive compensation for their work. As a result, they can truly claim to be civil servants. The fact that they are not being paid could also create awkward conversations for someone who is primarily interested in public service and would not mind receiving a small pay for their work. In Landis, this represents a little over $ 1,000 per year for regular board members.
Mayors and mayors pro tem often receive a little more for their service, but the salary would still be less than $ 2,000 per year in Landis.
In Salisbury, the compensation is $ 12,269 per year for regular council members, $ 13,697 for the mayor pro tem and $ 15,894 for the mayor. Each council member – mayor, deputy mayor and regular members also receives a technology allowance of $ 50 per month. If they choose to do so, council members can participate in the city’s health and dental insurance plans.
Board members can book travel to attend conferences or events relevant to their elected office. A common example are events organized by the National League of Cities or the League of Municipalities of NC. The Mayor of Salisbury also receives a travel allowance of $ 300 each, which can be used for local travel. The amount is $ 175 per month for the pro-mayor and other council members.
Landis in 2015 infamously spent nearly $ 17,000 at a three-day conference on ElectriCities in Myrtle Beach and adopted a new, stricter travel policy after it came under public scrutiny. It was good to attend the conference, but spending so much over three days was questionable.
This kind of spending, however, is an anomaly compared to most towns and cities. Newspapers across the country periodically write articles focused on travel expenses to capture exactly that.
While they are not on the ballot until 2022, Rowan County Commissioners earn slightly more than Salisbury City Council members. The Chairman of the Commissioners receives $ 624 per pay period, or the equivalent of approximately $ 16,200 per year. Regular Commissioners receive $ 533 per pay period, or the equivalent of approximately $ 13,800. Commissioners can choose to receive a county-issued cell phone or a monthly allowance. They also receive a travel allowance of $ 138 per pay period in addition to being reimbursed for travel expenses.
Believe it or not, state lawmakers such as Senator Carl Ford and Representative Harry Warren receive roughly the same base salary as the Mayor of Salisbury and Chairman of Rowan County Commissioners for their services – nearly $ 14,000 per year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. One major difference is that they also receive reimbursement for mileage and a per diem for time spent in session. Lawmakers will also be on the ballot in 2022, not this year.
Should local elected officials be better paid?
In small towns with limited budgets, there are simply more urgent items to spend taxpayers’ money on. Salisbury and Rowan County politics likely mean incumbents say ‘no thanks’ and voters are also not keen on the idea now and for the foreseeable future.
A pay rise might pique the interest of blue-collar workers who hadn’t yet considered a job application and aren’t well connected, but it could do the same for people who are already earning a good salary and have relationships that would be beneficial during a campaign.
Paying for state lawmakers is somewhat of a different issue as it requires a trip to the State Capitol and several days in a row in Raleigh. For some people, this is just not possible without a higher salary.
In city councils, however, those who run for office do so primarily because of an interest in public service and changing policies. For this, time is the most important factor.
Josh Bergeron is editor of the Salisbury Post.