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Compensation for the mayor hasn't changed in 13 years, and it hasn't changed for other city councilors since 2017.

PMG FILE PHOTO: - Hillsboro city councilors Anthony Martin, left, and Rick Van Beveren pictured at a city council meeting prior to the pandemic.City councilors in Hillsboro will soon receive stipend increases for the first time in years.

Later this year, the Hillsboro mayor's monthly stipend will increase by $1,000, and those of the council president and other councilors will increase by $250, according to two resolutions adopted by the City Council on March 16.

The increase brings the annual stipend of the mayor, council president and other councilors to $36,000, $11,400 and $9,000, respectively.

The stipends, which haven't increased since 2008 for the mayor and 2017 for other councilors, fall in between stipends provided to elected officials in other similar-sized cities in Oregon with the same form of government.

The resolutions were adopted unanimously by city councilors, who didn't have additional discussion about the changes except to declare conflicts of interest because they would financially benefit from the stipend increases. Two resolutions were needed to allow half of the councilors to approve the stipend changes for the other other half and vice versa.

The Hillsboro budget committee, which recommended the council make the stipend increases, discussed the changes at length during its Feb. 24 meeting, however.

According to a memo prepared by Hillsboro finance director Suzanne Linneen, committee members should consider how the stipends influence the city's ability to attract quality, diverse candidates to run for city council among other considerations.

City staff initially recommended the stipends for the mayor and other councilors to increase by $2,000 and $500 per month, respectively.

Some budget committee members said they thought the increases were too high.

Following discussion, the committee compromised and recommended the increases of $1,000 for the mayor and $250 for other councilors.

The committee also recommended that the stipends be reviewed annually, a provision that was codified in the adopted resolutions.

Olga Acuña, a current budget committee member and former Hillsboro city councilor, said the amount of compensation Hillsboro provides to city councilors can be a barrier to people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

"When we don't have a system in place that is compensating reasonably, the people that will get elected will be the people like me," Acuña said. "When I was elected, I was in a financial position where I could take time away from work, take time away from my family and serve. Not everybody can do that."

The city with a council-manager form of government most like Hillsboro in terms of size in the region is Gresham. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that as of 2019, each city had just over 109,000 residents.

In Gresham, members of the City Council receive substantially larger stipends than in Hillsboro. Annually, Gresham's mayor, council president and other councilors receive $61,200, $27,400 and $25,000, respectively.

By contrast, in Bend, with a population just over 100,000, the mayor and other councilors receive $15,320 and $7,660 per year, respectively. Bend also operates with a council-manager form of government.

In Beaverton, which has a population of about 99,000, the City Council recently approved salary changes for the mayor after residents approved a new city charter last May, changing its form of government to the council-manager model from the "strong mayor" model. In a strong mayor government, the mayor serves as both a voting member of its policy-making body and the city's administrative head.

Starting this year, Beaverton's mayor will receive $92,800, nearly $100,000 less than the previous salary.

Beaverton city councilors receive $1,600 monthly or $19,200 annual stipends, according to a city spokesperson.


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