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City council likely due $300 monthly raise

Budget committee proposes increase to $1,600 per month.

The Beaverton City Council is likely to see something this summer that has only come around one other time in 15 years — a raise.

The citizen members of the Beaverton Budget Committee last week voted 5-0 to increase stipends paid to council members from the current $1,300 per month to $1,600 per month, beginning when the new budget takes effect July 1.

Council members, who make up half the committee, abstained from voting on the proposed stipend increase but voted for the proposed budget and also will give the raise final approval when the council adopts the final budget in late June.

“I don’t think that anybody who does this does it for the money,” Council President Mark Fagin said. “It’s a whole lot of work.”

Jim McCreight, an appointed member of the budget committee, proposed the increase after polling council members and learning that most of them worked on city business 15 to 20 hours a week.

“I was aware of how much time they were spending on council business,” he said.

Council members were paid $1,200 per month from 2000 to 2012, when they received a $100 monthly raise to the current $1,300 level, McCreight said. Meanwhile, he said city employees received cost-of-living raises totaling 29.4 percent during those dozen years.

The proposed stipend increase nearly equals employee raises through 2012 but still doesn’t match further increases over the past three years, McCreight said. Next year, he hopes the budget committee will consider permanently tying council stipends to employee cost-of-living increases.

“Getting the stipend up to a more reasonable (level) would enable many more citizens to consider working on the council,” McCreight said. “Nobody’s getting rich on $1,600 a month, but at least it makes it reasonable.”

In cities where council members receive little or no compensation for their time, the council makeup tends to look less like the broader community because often only retirees and wealthy people can afford to serve without compensation, he said.

“I think we have much more engaged councilors in this city,” veteran council member Marc San Soucie agreed. “We need five people that have different perspectives and we can’t get that for free.”

Voters in Gresham, for example, agreed with the concept last week when they approved by a two-to-one margin a plan to set a monthly stipend for council members similar to Beaverton’s proposed rates.

Dave Waffle, Beaverton's assistant finance director, said the raises would include a few other costs but would have a budget impact of less than $20,000.

Beaverton’s proposed increases don’t affect the mayor’s job, currently held by Denny Doyle, who serves as the city’s full-time chief administrator. Doyle’s annual salary is $165,515, according to the city’s salary schedule approved in February.


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