Durango City Councilors elected in 2017 could get paid more.
City councilors all voiced their support Tuesday for a raise that would increase councilors’ monthly pay from $500 to $867. The mayor’s salary would increase from $750 per month to about $1,167.
For councilors, this is the equivalent of about $10 an hour, if they spend about 20 hours a week taking care of City Council affairs.
“The idea is not to lose so much money when you are taking so many hours outside of your day job,” said Councilor Christina Rinderle.
Currently, councilors make about $5.77 an hour during a 20-hour work week.
Mayor Dean Brookie and Councilor Keith Brant could benefit from the salary increases if they are re-elected in 2017. But none of the other councilors would see a bump in their paycheck because they are term-limited.
Only one person offered the councilors feedback on the proposal to raise the councilors’ salaries.
Mike Todt, a member of the city’s Ethics Board, supported approving a raise, but he questioned the amount and the methodology.
If the raise is approved, the councilors would get paid more than their colleagues in many other cities, including Boulder, Breckenridge and Telluride, according to a table provided by the city for comparison.
“As I look at the table, you are going to get paid more than (councilors in) any other larger town, other than the city of Golden,” Todt said.
Todt asked the council to give the task of evaluating salaries to a citizens board. He also suggested looking at the salaries of councilors in cities that have a similar complexity and budget as a reference rather than evaluating it on an hourly basis.
“I would suggest using the principles of executive compensation,” he said.
The councilors said they might apply some of his suggestions in the future. But they agreed the pay raise was fair, and it would allow people from many professions to consider running for a seat on the board.
“We don’t want to make it impossible for lower-income workers to even consider public service,” said Councilor Dick White.