NOREEN: Council pay hike would cost taxpayers $375,750

February 14, 2013
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Colorado Springs voters will decide April 2 whether to give City Council members a raise, from $6,250 a year, to $48,000 a year.

Reader Sarah MacLeod wanted to know, “Who and how was the figure $48,000 decided on? And with it on the ballot and discussion so far I wonder if passed, which I would be surprised if it is, where is the money coming from to fund this pay raise?”

The first answer is that the measure was proposed by a coalition of citizens called Citizens for a Fair and More Representative Council, led by John Weiss, publisher of the Colorado Springs Independent. On Tuesday five members of the council — Lisa Czeladtko, Brandy Williams, Val Snider, Scott Hente and Jan Martin — voted to put it on the ballot.

The $48,000 figure is half of what Mayor Steve Bach is paid and when supporters of the measure lobbied for the idea they used that as the rationale.

If the measure passes the combined pay increase for the nine council members would cost $375,750 a year. That money would have to come from somewhere in the city’s general fund.

Council members have been paid at their current rate since voters approved council pay in April 1997.

One side of the debate says council deserves a raise after so many years and that paying council members more would result in a broader spectrum of citizens running for the seats. The other side of the debate says that while the council may deserve a raise, its duties have been diminished by the strong mayor system approved by voters in 2010.

All of the ambiguity will be cleared up in 45 days. If the measure passes, the new council and the mayor would decide where to adjust the budget to make up for the pay increase.

Turning to something less subjective, reader John MacNeil asked, “It appears that Colorado is about to exhaust its current three-number, three-letter sequence of license plates. Do you know what the new series will be?”

The answer, from the Colorado Department of Revenue spokeswoman Ro Silva: “Due to advances in printing and license plate reader systems, the previous restriction of printing “Q” has been lifted. After Colorado reaches 999 ZZZ, we will print all “Q” series (e.g., 001 AAQ, 001 AQA, 001 QAA). Printing of the “Q” is expected to last two years. After “Q’s” are printed, Colorado will swap the current 3-3 configuration and print letters first than numbers. That run is expected to last 12-plus years.”

Got a question? Contact Barry Noreen at 636-0363 or at Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Hear him on KRDO 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 
6:35 a.m. Fridays.


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