City Council votes to increase mayoral salaryMar 31, 2023 02:33PM ● By Travis Barton
The West Jordan City Council approved a new salary for the upcoming mayoral term raising it from $109,000 to $124,000. Pictured is Mayor Dirk Burton. (City Journals)
The West Jordan mayor position will get a raise in 2024.
That’s what was decided in a recent vote by the West Jordan City Council that set the mayoral salary for the upcoming term starting next year.
In a 4-2 vote, the council approved the new salary at $124,000. While some councilmembers, and a former mayor, thought it should be higher, the number was deemed a good compromise by some of the council.
Currently the mayoral salary sits at $105,000. Councilmember Zach Jacob suggested the $124,000 number by calculating today’s inflation to the current salary then adding a little more.
The original plan of increasing it to $116,000 felt too low for some councilmembers. Jacob said they needed to be reasonable considering the amount and type of work involved with being mayor.
“Let’s be fair to the position, be real about what we’re asking someone to do and be real about what that ask is worth,” Jacob said prior to the vote. “I don’t think $116 is enough.”
Jacob highlighted that whatever number they choose is “arbitrary” since it’s not relatively competitive with other mayor positions, people can’t decide what city to run for mayor in, unlike a police chief or city manager position.
The council discussion centered around the motive for being mayor, whether it’s a service or if a higher salary is needed to attract quality candidates.
Former mayor Kim Rolfe told the council to go above $130,000 considering West Jordan is the third-largest city in the state. Salt Lake City’s mayoral position sits at $160,000 while Provo’s population is just behind West Jordan and its salary is $130,000. Other cities in the county with the same form of government have varying salaries. Murray, with less than half the population of West Jordan, is $130,000, Sandy’s population is under 100,000 and has a salary of $126,000, while Taylorsville has a $109,000 salary with a population around 60,000.
“Our mayor, in my opinion, should be someone who is an executive or have executive experience or has run a business since that’s what the strong mayor form of government is,” Rolfe said. “It’s why we voted for it.”
Rolfe added to have an executive leave their career would require the “kind of salary to let them go do it. Not many will do it for half the salary” like he did.
Councilmember Kayleen Whitelock, who abstained from the vote because she plans to run for mayor, felt the position is one of service.
“I want someone that their purpose of being there is to serve and not for a dollar figure, I just feel strongly that way,” she said.
Whitelock felt they could still attract good candidates, pointing to Rolfe as an example.
“I don’t think money necessarily equates quality,” she said. “So, for me I want us to get the best candidates to run and I don’t think it necessarily means money…people can have those same experiences and still serve.”
City code does allow the mayor to take less than the salary with the rest going into the general fund.
Councilmembers Kelvin Green and Melissa Worthen were the dissenting votes. Green empathized with the idea that higher salaries would attract the type of leader residents would look for but wasn’t sure that would be the case. He pointed to other cities with strong-mayor forms of government having mayors that weren’t exactly CEOs or high-ranking executives prior to taking over as mayor.
“I’m not sure it makes any difference,” he said of the higher salary attraction. “If I knew it was going to attract that kind of candidate, I would vote for it, but looking across the board with mayor salaries and types of government that are most like us and who runs, I don’t see that professional group there. I would prefer $116,000.”
Councilmember Chris McConnehey preferred $130,000K while Jacob felt $116,000K would essentially serve as a pay cut to the position.
Councilmember Pamela Bloom felt $124,000K was the proper compromise.
“We want to make this fair, but we don’t want to have people come in for the pay,” Bloom said. “We want to have that balance and I think this strikes a good balance of being fair with inflation with the size of our city, with it being a strong mayor and it’s not going to be one of the lower salaries we have in our county.”