Comparable pay tough vote for council

One of the hardest decisions for local city council and school board members is to vote to raise their salaries.

I believe most school board and city council members are underpaid when all the extra time and effort and abuse they undergo is considered.

Better salaries attract better members who can reason, compromise and make decisions with the entire community and district in mind.

Of course, during these tough economic times, anyone who votes to raise their salaries is bound to be criticized. That’s true in good and bad times.

Some city councils just swallow hard and keep delaying any pay increase decisions.

Recently the Eden Prairie City Council had the courage to raise its pay to be more in line with what four comparable cities are paying.

Eden Prairie City Council members get a base salary of $7,500 a year plus personal cell phone and equipment for city business totaling $8,220 a year. The Eden Prairie mayor receives a total base salary of $9,900 a year plus technical help for a grand total of $10,620.

A study compared Eden Prairie to Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Eagan and Maple Grove. The study revealed that the average salary for a council member is $10,740 and for a mayor, $13,500.

The Eden Prairie City Council, which hasn’t had a raise since 2004, voted to increase its salary to those numbers with no other compensation for expenses, such as pay for extra driving, attending extra meetings, using their own  computers and phone lines.

They will get the higher salaries starting Jan. 1 of next year.

For sure, this decision will be criticized, but hats off to Eden Prairie for making a decision that will help keep quality. — Don Heinzman, ECM Publishers