Don’t expect former City Councilman Sean Paige to appear in any campaign ads supporting a proposed ballot measure that would increase the pay of a future City Council.
“I have a one word rebuttal to those who believe better pay will result in better leadership: Congress,” Paige commented on a story on gazette.com about the proposed salary increase.
“Congress isn’t any less of a circus because each of the clowns now makes $174,000 per year, plus a king’s benefits and pension package,” he said.
Paige, former editorial page editor of The Gazette and currently deputy director of the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity, says he has a “simpler” and “more affordable” solution to increase the pool of council candidates.
“The easiest way to increase the number and quality of people able to serve on City Council/Utilities Board — if that is the primary goal here — is to move meeting times from weekday afternoons, when most people are working, to evening hours, which would permit more people not only to serve but to attend,” he said.
Paige left a lengthy comment backing the idea of moving council meetings to the evening.
Here is the rest of his comment:
I pushed for this while on council but the idea was shot down, for reasons that were either silly, self-serving or outdated. Daytime meetings are a relic of the city manager system, in my opinion, when what was convenient for city employees was more important than what was convenient for the public at large. That model is gone now so a re-thinking is in order.
This simple change would cost nothing but greatly expand leadership opportunities for people who work 9 to 5. If we did it now, or very soon, the pool of people interested in running for council in April would grow considerably. Many cities function quite well with councils that meet in the evening. Marathon sessions that stretch until midnight could be avoided simply by running meetings with more efficiency.
Meetings would be attended not just by the narrowly-interested, who happen to have an item of special concern on the docket that day, but by the general public, who may be prevented from taking part now by day jobs. This new arrangement might be less convenient for the city or utility staff who are required to attend, and it might increase the city’s coffee bill by a couple bucks each month, but those are small drawbacks as compared to the obvious advantages.
Jumping directly to paying council members $45,000 per year, without first trying this much simpler and more affordable way to broaden the leadership pool, is a leap too far, in my opinion, which will flop at the ballot box. I also agree with those who say we still have some work to do, sorting out roles and responsibilities, particularly pertaining to utilities business, before we can determine a more equitable pay rate for councilors. More responsibility might argue for more pay, but I don’t see that responsibilities have grown any — and they may even be diminished somewhat under the new structure.
Finally, I would be more supportive of paying council members more if there were fewer of them — 5 instead of 9, for instance. I’ve never understood why a city this size needs a 9-member council, when 5 would probably do just fine. That’s my 2 cents worth, off the cuff. I reserve the right to add another dime or quarter as the debate unfolds.