Elected officials in West Jordan will get a nice pay increase starting next January. After some vigorous debate, and a public hearing, councilmembers voted 4-2 to increase the compensation for the mayor and councilmember positions from $815 a month to $1,500 a month. It’s the first increase in pay in 20 years for officials, and it will not include a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
Mayor Kim Rolfe, who by choice does not take a salary himself, proposed the changes after looking at the financial compensation of councilmembers in neighboring cities (see chart with this article). Despite West Jordan being the third largest city in the state population-wise, its municipal council salaries have been the lowest in the county, with the exception of Bluffdale.
There were mixed feelings amongst the six members who voted on the motion. Councilman Jeff Haaga said, “This is a delicate subject, and no one who is here on the stand ever thought they could make a living doing this. I support the increase because I hope it will serve to attract others to consider running for these positions in the future.”
Councilman Chad Nicholls said he shared a similar concern, that the stress the job puts on councilmembers’ lives does take a toll, “and I think compensation should be appropriate with respect to the position.” But he, along with every other member on the council, said his decision to run “was based on my desire to serve my community. It wasn’t financial, and it never should be for any public servant.”
Though Mayor Rolfe’s original proposal included a COLA, he withdrew it from his actual motion once other councilmembers had chimed in their opposition to it.
“I’m okay without it, but I do believe that when you factor in the time each of us serve both at meetings and outside of meetings, along with fuel, car usage and other costs we entail, this pay increase is justified.”
Two members voted against the increase. Councilman Ben Southworth said, “I didn’t even know when I first ran for the council what I got paid.” And councilman Chris McConnehey felt “it’s not necessary to compare ourselves with other cities. Serving on the council does take a toll on you that you may not expect, and the pay may not be commiserate with what we do, but I’m not sure it should be.”
The $18,000 annual compensation still trails those in Salt Lake City, Sandy and West Valley City.
Municipal Council Salaries and Populations
City | Population | Salary
Bluffdale | 7,598 | $4,800
Cottonwood Heights | 33,433 | $14,561
Draper | 42,274 | $13,814
Herriman | 21,785 $ | 9,000
Holladay | 26,472 | $11,400
Midvale | 27,964 | $12,000
Murray | 46,746 | $14,331
Ogden | 82,825 | $11,800
Orem | 88,328 | $13,200
Provo | 112,488 | $12,000
Riverton | 38,753 | $11,679
Salt Lake City | 186,440 | $23,754
St.George | 72,897 | $12,000
Sandy | 87,461 | $19,379
South Jordan | 50,418 | $14,900
Taylorsville | 58,652 | $13,219
West Jordan | 103,712 | $18,000*
West Valley City | 129,480 | $18,820
*As of January 2016. Current salary is $9,780