Council gives itself a ... raise?
"Lofty" is not a term you would use when describing the compensation Newberg City Council members get.
Even after unanimously approving a pay raise last week, councilors who regularly spend 10-plus hours in the twice-a-month meetings as well as hours of preparation for those meetings and appearing at public events, workshops and the like, the compensation makes fast-food wages seem … well … lofty.
The council last addressed its per-meeting compensation in 2008, when it approved an increase from $8 to $10 per meeting, paid out every six months. Councilors first began receiving pay in 1984 at $8 per hour "to offset out of pocket costs for attending council meetings," the agenda said.
The issue was brought before the council this year in March. The council directed staff to change compensation from $10 per meeting and to a set monthly stiped, approved as part of the annual budget process by the budget committee, which is made up of equal parts council members and volunteers from the citizenry.
The unusual payment schedule posed problems for the city's finance department, which approached the council asking that it instead pay councilors every month, as is done in neighboring cities.
After researching other municipalities, city staff settled on a monthly rate of $200 per councilor, regardless of how many hours councilors spend in meetings or in other activities.
The budget committee adopted the budget in May and included the revised compensation numbers of $200 per month per councilor and $300 per month for the mayor. How the rate for the mayor came to be $300 is unsure.
"So, I've researched it and researched it and it dates back to when Mayor Elvern Hall was acting city manager for a short period of time in the 1980s," City Recorder Sue Ryan said in an email
"The mayor can also receive $10 per meeting if he so chooses," Ryan said. "Since he has been in office, Rick (Rogers) has waived the per meeting compensation and just receives $300 per month."
The financial impact to the city, which was approved as part of the 2022-23 budget process, is $14,440 for councilors and $3,600 for the mayor.
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