The Cost of Public Service (Weber-Davis City Councils, Bountiful Tops List)(Correction)

The Standard Examiner put up an editorial entitled “‘Public service’, for a price” based on a compensation survey their correspondent, Katie Ellis, conducted on Weber and Davis city councils. Excerpt follows:

The extremes are Huntsville and Bountiful. It’s often said — but rarely with sincerity — by people who run for city council that all they want to do is help their community. Huntsville makes sure there’s no debate about that claim, since it pays members of its city council $1 per year. As Councilman Jim Truett told Ellis, “Everyone who serves loves Huntsville. It’s like it’s your turn.”

The people serving on the Bountiful City Council may be doing so for altruistic reasons, as well, but the blow to their bank accounts is somewhat softened by $1,454 per month in return for their time and efforts. For most people — not necessarily those serving on the council — that would be a good part-time job.

Every other city falls somewhere in between. The averages, according to Ellis, are $419 per month for each council member in Weber County cities, and $643 for their counterparts in Davis County municipalities.

For most cities, the salaries have inched up bit by bit over decades. Other city councils have voted themselves huge increases all at once — like West Haven: City council members there just voted themselves raises from $450 per month to $1,260 per month, with retirement benefits. That’s a 280 percent bump.


Sadly, it is the custom among many politicians to beg voters for the job, then grumble about inadequate compensation after being elected until they’ve convinced their colleagues and the public to support an increase in compensation.

I tried to find Ellis’ story on the Standard’s site but was unable to find it. If I do, I’ll update this post with a link to the original article.

Bountiful council members come out with $17,448/year, West Haven went from $5,400/year to $15,120/year, while the Davis county average is $7,716/year (Weber is $5,028/year – I assume that includes the Ogden City Council). I like Huntsville’s $1.

Correction (1/17/08 ): I managed to get the original article (not available on the web). Bountiful is not at the top, Clearfield is at ($1,540/month). However, that figure may factor in health insurance which many council members do not accept. If Bountiful doesn’t offer health insurance or all council members accepted the benefit, then it would top the ‘compensation list’ (unfortunately, the article does not specify). Since the editorial alluded to Bountiful being the high, I wonder if that is not, indeed, the case (Bountiful being the top for liquid pay) otherwise, I think the editorial would have highlighted Clearfield.

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