The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

 
 

By LEE REVIS
Editor, Valdez Star 

Pay for council up for second reading and passage next week

Advisory vote that panned pay was close backers of compensation said

 


The Valdez City Council is poised to pass a new ordinance granting compensation for council members and the mayor when they attend regular meetings.

The move came at the city council's first August meeting, and passed by a vote of 4-2.

Mayor Ruth Knight and council member Lon Needles voted against the ordinance.

Council member Chris Moulton was absent and excused from the meeting.

The ordinance requires a second vote of the council before it can become effective according to Sheri Pierce, the city clerk.

"Our charter also requires that if the council does pass this ordinance that it will not take effect until the next municipal election next May," she told the council.

The move is controversial because the council is disregarding an advisory vote, Proposition 3, that failed to pass when it was put before voters during last May's municipal elections.

"It was very, very close," council member Nate Smith "So I asked for it to come forward."

If passed at the second reading on May 23, the ordinance will allow the mayor to receive a stipend of $125 per regular council meeting, and council members will receive $100 each. By city ordinance, the compensation cannot begin until after the May 2, 2017 elections.

Proposition 3, which was strictly an advisory vote, failed to pass, 342-346.

Proposition 3 asked voters their opinion on a straightforward question: Shall legislation be considered for enactment by the city council to provide a stipend for the mayor and council members in an amount not to exceed $100.00 per regular city council meeting for council members and an amount not to exceed $125.00 per regular city council meeting for the mayor?

As an advisory vote, the council and mayor are not bound by the outcome of Proposition 3.

"I have never been a proponent for a public servant being paid," Knight said, before voting against the ordinance.

She said if it passes, she will donate her portion to a charity.

Public comment on the ordinance was split, 50/50.

"Why are the council the seven chosen?" former council member Jim Shirrell asked, noting that members of the board of education and members of the city's numerous commissions all serve without compensation.

Alan Crume, a citizen who frequently comments at city meetings, said he is all for compensating city council and the mayor for their work.

Council member Lon Needles, before voting against the ordinance, said he was disappointed in the turnout for the last municipal elections and that maybe more voters will go to the polls in the next election if the ordinance passes.

The city council would have normally held its next meeting on Tuesday, August 16, but the meeting was rescheduled to accommodate the primary elections.

 

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