ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

OUR OPINION: GF Council’s proposed raise seems fair

To be a strong and productive member of the Grand Forks City Council, candidates should look at the office as a part-time job. And not just any part-time job. Council members have to scrutinize multi-million dollar budgets, read agenda packets th...

Our Opinion
Our Opinion logo

To be a strong and productive member of the Grand Forks City Council, candidates should look at the office as a part-time job.
And not just any part-time job.
Council members have to scrutinize multi-million dollar budgets, read agenda packets thoroughly, be experts on complicated pension and civil-service laws and handle calls from constituents and the press, among other duties.
All of which will take a conscientious member a good 15 or 20 hours a week.
So, a council seat is best described as a complicated, challenging and time-consuming part-time job.
And such positions in American society deserve good pay, especially if the larger society wants to attract a strong lineup of candidates for the posts.
That’s why the Grand Forks City Council is justified in seeking to raise its own pay, even by the seemingly extraordinary amount of 171 percent.
For one thing, the current pay of $5,200 a year is absurdly low. At 20 hours a week, that amounts to about $5 an hour; and council membership is too challenging and too important to expect people to do the job for less than the minimum wage.
For another thing, the proposed pay level of $14,100 still is reasonable and not excessive or outrageous at all. Think of it: Council members devote time and high-level attention to the city, casting votes on some of our most challenging issues. Considering what has happened to executive pay in other arenas, doesn’t $14,100 a year for Grand Forks’ highest elected officials seem fair?
The proposed salary also is in line with council pay in other North Dakota cities, which in this case is a useful indicator.
And it’s reasonable to expect that the higher pay will attract a broader class of candidates for council posts. As Council Member Bret Weber has noted, there are no women on the council, and there’s only one member - namely, Dana Sande - who has children at home.
Grand Forks will be better off if its council attracts more candidates from those and other demographics.
Despite the above, some council members may balk at the idea of raising their own pay by 171 percent. If a majority feel that way, then stairstepping the increase over the next few years could convince more observers that the council is acting in the public’s as well the council members’ interest.
But by the same token, if a majority feel willing to pass the pay raise all at once, then they should go ahead and do so. A City Council seat is not a a volunteer post. It’s complicated and difficult work, and doing it well requires high-level leadership and decision-making skills. It deserves to be fairly compensated.

Opinion by Thomas Dennis
What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT