Saugatuck City Council Votes Itself A Pay Raise: Now $50 Per Meeting
Not since 1984 when Saugatuck incorporated into a home rule city have public officials given themselves a pay raise for serving in public office.
At Monday night’s meeting, the council voted to increase the compensation rate for themselves from the previous $35 per meeting for up to 24 meetings per year to $50 per meeting.
The Compensation Commission, composed of three Saugatuck residents, met on Dec. 19 and 27 to review the issue and came up with the recommendation.
The raise brings the total annual compensation level from $840 to $1,200, which is consistent with other units of government in the area, according to a ranking analysis conducted by city staff.
For example, Douglas City Council’s annual compensation is $1,200; South Haven $1,400; Wayland $1,640; and Plainwell $1,800.
In a similar move as the 2018 year begins, the Saugatuck Township Board last week unanimously voted to increase the compensation of those serving on the township’s Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Review: $75 per meeting for the former and $50 per meeting for the latter.
However, the township board declined to make any move for compensation for themselves.
Saugatuck Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Spangler started out the conversation Monday by saying that the recommendation for an increase does not indicate that members currently serving in council were seeking and in the need of more compensation, but a higher compensation “does give an example of how we value ourselves in council.”
Spangler further noted that he and his colleagues were getting up in years, and a higher compensation “might provide an incentive” for younger persons to run for and serve in public office in the future.
Critical of the compensation and implying that a higher compensation should not dictate the quality or level of service an elected official should carry out, Saugatuck City Council Member Barry Johnson noted, “I don’t think it (a raise) is going to help us do a better job.”
City funds have been appropriated in the fiscal year 2017/2018 budget to accommodate the new council compensation, according to Saugatuck city staff.
The increase was effective Monday, and Saugatuck City Attorney Jeff Sluggett found it to be consistent with city charter rules.