The Independence City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on pay raises that would substantially increase the salaries of the mayor and council members.
The pay raises would not take effect until April 2018, as the City Council cannot vote on salaries of current members. The vote would take place before Monday's changeover, as John Perkins replaces Marcie Gragg as the District 1 representative. Curt Dougherty, Scott Roberson and unopposed Tom Van Camp won re-election in their respective districts, and the current terms of Mayor Eileen Weir and at-large council members Karen DeLuccie and Chris Whiting would expire in April 2018.
City staff say the proposed increases would bring the city more in line with neighboring communities.
The proposed ordinance would increase salaries to $40,000 for the mayor and $20,000 for the six council members, as well as a $500-per-month car allowance for each person.
The last time the council took action on salaries was November 1999, when it set salaries at $20,000 for the mayor and $10,000 for council members, with $500 increases every four years. That increase would continue under the proposed ordinance.
The city's 2015-16 operating budget listed the mayor's salary at $24,999 and councilmembers at $11,500 average ($69,000 for six positions).
Assistant City Manager Zach Walker said the city's human resources department regularly surveys relative city salaries with those from 10 to 12 municipalities on both sides of the border in the Kansas City metro region in an attempt to achieve some balance in Independence's figures. The latest survey data he had for city council and mayor was from 2013, Walker said.
The proposed figures, Walker said, are “very, very indicative of the average.”
“Heading into this fiscal year, it's something we wanted to look at,” he said. “We wanted to put our folks right at the market.”
Lee's Summit's city council recently approved a pay raise for its future mayor from $18,000 to $30,000, along with hikes from $7,800 to $11,400 for council members (extra $100 per month for the mayor pro tem) and $150 to $250 per month for car allowances. Lee's Summit also hadn't raised those salaries since 1999.
The Blue Springs mayor’s salary is $18,000 per year, with the mayor pro tem at $9,800 and other council members at $7,800.
In much larger Kansas City, the mayor’s salary is $123,156 and council members make $61,572. In Overland Park, Kansas, the mayor receives $32,000.
Walker said that even if the council passes the ordinance Monday, it still could pull back in the future, if the future budgets experience a bigger crunch than anticipated.
“I would think the intent of the council is to start that process and get the ball rolling, so to speak – ‘Are we in a position that we can do this in good faith,’ ” he said. “In two years, if they feel the revenue's not there, they have the ability to rescind that.”