St. George city officials vote to raise their salaries by 66 percent

Stock image | Photo by AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Members of the St. George City Council voted Thursday to raise their pay for the first time in over two decades.

L-R: City Attorney Shawn Guzman, City Manager Adam Lenhard, Councilwoman Bette Arial, Councilman Jimmy Hughes, Mayor Jon Pike, Councilwoman Michele Randall, Councilman Joe Bowcutt, Councilman Ed Baca at St. George City Hall for their regularly scheduled meeting, St. George, Utah, Dec. 6, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Community Education Channel, St. George News

During the council’s regularly scheduled meeting, all five council members voted in favor of amending a city ordinance to increase their annual pay by about 66 percent, from $12,000 to $20,000. The ordinance also includes a $20,000 pay bump for the mayor, from $30,000 to $50,000 annually.

“Elected office, of course, is voluntary – nobody forces you to run – but as with other cities and towns, we do provide compensation to the mayor and the City Council in recognition of the costs that you incur in the office, both in terms of money and time,” City Manager Adam Lenhard said.

The last pay increase voted into law was in 1996 when the city had a population of 44,000, nearly half the size of its current population.

“The size and complexity of the city has grown significantly, as have the demands placed on the mayor and council in your roles as elected officials,” Lenhard told the assembled council. “We recognize you’re probably busier than ever.”

Lenhard worked with city staff to determine a compensation level appropriate for 2018, examining the pay schedule of elected officials in comparable cities throughout the state.

“We know that you can’t make a living off of your city paycheck, and all of you rely on employment elsewhere to make ends meet,” Lenhard said. “But hopefully the compensation that you’re provided offsets the cost just enough so that elected office is something that anyone in our community could be involved with.”

Ultimately, Lenhard said, they settled on a pay rate that “accurately reflects” the amount of time city officials put into the job.

City Manager Adam Lenhard speaks during a City Council meeting at St. George City Hall, St. George, Utah, Dec. 6, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Community Education Channel, St. George News

“We attempted to be fair without being excessive, recognizing, of course, that these are taxpayer dollars,” he said. “These are not intended to be full-time salaries. Obviously, if they were, they’d be a lot higher than they are.”

Baked into the amended compensation ordinance are several new provisions, including a clause allowing elected officials’ salaries to increase based on cost-of-living adjustments in the same way the pay rate of city employees is adjusted.

These adjustments will be made annually when the city’s budget is drafted, St. George City Attorney Shawn Guzman said.

The amended ordinance also allows elected officials to participate in the same benefits plan as full-time city employees and allows access to other employee benefits, such as wellness programs. The ordinance also states that they may be compensated for personal vehicle use and the use of electronic devices for city-related business.

Mayor Jon Pike and Councilman Ed Baca emphasized that their pay increases were only considered after the city made “significant” adjustments to the pay structure of city employees, increasing salaries and improving benefit offerings.

“That’s important to us that we take care of all the employees in the city,” Pike said. “They are our most precious resource.”

City officials say they implemented the changes for the benefit of future mayors and council members, not just themselves.

“Twenty-two years is a long time to not have any adjustment, and we’re all very sensitive on this issue,” Pike said. “It’s something we’ve talked about for a while, and it’s difficult to sometimes want to give yourselves a raise, but it’s not just about those that occupy the seats at this time.”

Before the council’s unanimous vote to approve the measure, Pike opened the proposal for a public hearing, but no one in the audience at the meeting gave comment.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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16 Comments

  • ladybugavenger December 7, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    These are not intended to be full time salaries- I certainly hope they realize that most full time jobs pay $20,000 a year or less in that town. Perhaps, thet could raise minimum wage 66%

  • jaltair December 7, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Good! Looks like a pay raise was needed.

  • Red2Blue310 December 7, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    Of course! Especially knowing everyone else in town got 5%. Joke.

  • Dolly December 7, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    SG News, you make the headline seem so shocking, but after 20 years I’m sure a raise was needed. Now..the other side of the coin – you say these are part-time positions for a minimum of $20,000? Must be nice. My spouse works 48 hrs per week, with no benefits and makes about $16,000. That’s roughly 20% of his previous salary from another state (and they gave him benefits). Salaries here are a joke – even if you have a good education and an exemplary employment record. Lucky we have another source of income, or we’d be on foodstamps, too. I don’t know how the extra-large families around here manage to keep a roof over their heads. It’s no wonder that such a large percentage of Dixie State students leave the area once they’ve graduated.

    • Shorm December 8, 2018 at 3:09 am

      Sounds like your husband needs a new job, that’s not even minimum wage! Even McDonald’s pays more than that starting out.

      • Dolly December 9, 2018 at 12:19 am

        It’s straight commission – no salary, no benefits. Some weeks are good some are awful. At times he makes a buck an hour, other times (on rare occasion) it’s 33 bucks an hour. Just depends on how the jobs come along. He likes the job, they like him, so he will continue. Sadly, some of his counterparts struggle since they have no other source of income or benefits.

  • Kilroywashere December 7, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    Alright Mayor Pike, next time we meet in front of the Jazz Garden I expect you to pay for my entrance ticket. LOL. Actually seems raise is appropriate in my opinion.

  • Shorm December 8, 2018 at 3:11 am

    Sounds like the raise was overdue, even though the percentage was high. I’m glad they took care of City employees first. They really could avoid this happening if they implemented a 2% raise every year instead of waiting until they need to raise the salary a substantial amount like this.

  • KR567 December 8, 2018 at 3:22 am

    I don’t have a problem with the raise…….

  • tcrider December 8, 2018 at 6:34 am

    How about a 80% pay increase if city leadership will slow growth instead of increase it.
    I am betting the local tax payers would be in favor of slowing growth and increasing quality of
    living by slowing growth. Instead of constant new developments, you could increase resources
    for law enforcement for traffic control enforcement and every other article in the news wouldn’t
    be about traffic accidents and people running red lights and stop signs. I would be in favor of a huge
    tax increase to improve the quality and safety of living here, instead of this constant development BS.

  • Not_So_Much December 8, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Does this include ‘benefits’ from the developers and those awarded large contracts? Just wondering.

    • tcrider December 8, 2018 at 10:43 am

      That is a excellent point, any kickbacks should be put on the table, and make it a felony offense, from
      the mayor on down.

  • Rebekah December 8, 2018 at 9:13 am

    How about we raise teachers salaries!! Considering Washington County is the LOWEST paid district in the state!! Many teachers who live in our county work in Mesquite because the pay here is so pitiful!

    • tcrider December 8, 2018 at 10:51 am

      Teachers wages are ridiculously low and are a indication of the mentality of
      this states culture. Education is a priority in many other states in our country,
      and probably only fixable with organized labor movements, yes the union word.

  • Mike P December 8, 2018 at 11:46 am

    Sure wished I could have “voted” (?) to raised my salary.

  • Redbud December 9, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    Where is our pay raise? Can we pass a city ordinance to take care of the awful wages employers pay out in St George?

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