Dillon Town Council members express interest in pay increase for future members, but have not decided how much

Council discussed a pay bump for those elected in future years as well as automatic increases

Dillon Town Hall is pictured Jan. 21, 2021. Dillon Town Council discussed a pay bump for those elected in future years as well as automatic increases.
Sawyer D’Argonne/Summit Daily News

The Dillon Town Council discussed potential pay raises for members elected to the council in future elections on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

All six council members and the mayor appeared to agree that some increase in compensation was overdue, but did not come to a conclusion on a set amount by the end of the almost 30-minute conversation.

As of the most recent election cycle, the council members are compensated $500 per month and the mayor receives $1,000 per month. The council members noted that they cannot give themselves pay raises but can only increase the pay for those elected in an upcoming election.

Council member John Woods said that it is “politically sensitive to look like you’re giving yourself a raise” but noted that increasing council members’ pay may bring more competition to the next election, so it’s not true that council members are only looking out for themselves.

“Don’t say it’s in my best interest,” Woods said. “My best interest is to keep it the way it is.”

Council member Renee Imamura said she believed a considerable increase in compensation could attract more qualified candidates to run in future elections. Imamura said even the $1,000 per month that Breckenridge pays council members, the most of any Summit County town, is not very much. At one point she suggested $2,000 per month and said at minimum their compensation should be $850 a month.

“I think there should be a substantial increase in the mayor and in the council for the time we want people to put in,” Imamura said. “It’s not just showing up at the meetings and reading the packet.”

Mayor Caroyln Skowyra said she doesn’t buy the argument that more money will result in higher quality candidates. Skowyra said that an incremental increase in council members’ pay might be “easier to swallow.”

But council member Tony Scalise said there is not much incentive for new people to run for Town Council because the compensation is so little.

“It would just be a little bit more of an incentive to think about it and get involved rather than ‘I’m not going to do all that work for that little money,’” Scalise said.

Woods said he thought that the council members should receive a raise similar to what other town employees receive. He said inflation has meant some town employees have seen a raise as much as 60% in recent years and suggested that a similar percentage increase could be appropriate for council members.

Finance Director Carri McDonnell clarified that the only employees that have seen a raise on that level are seasonal employees because the town had been having trouble finding seasonal staff and had to boost wages to be more attractive. Full-time staff receive about a 4% raise each year, though last year it was closer to a 10% or 15% raise, according to McDonnell.

While some towns such as Frisco offer health care and other benefits to council members, for Dillon to do that, the town would have to offer the same benefits to seasonal staff, McDonnell said. Since the town has more seasonal staff than full-time staff, offering health care benefits to council members would be “very expensive,” she said.

Skowyra suggested that the council members’ compensation be automatically increased every election cycle so the council doesn’t have to discuss wages every year. She added that $700 per month “doesn’t seem like an outrageous increase.”

Mayor Pro Tem Brad Bailey, who at one point floated an increase in compensation to $750 per month, suggested tabling the discussion for a period of time since other towns will likely increase their pay soon too. That’ll give more accurate figures to compare Dillon’s compensation for town members to, Bailey said.

However, other members like Imamura and Scalise wanted a decision on compensation to be made more immediately.

Council member Kyle Hendricks asked what would happen if the stock market were to crash, leading the town to be more conservative with its money.

“I assume if the town was short on cash that the council would be the first ones to say we’re volunteering,” Skowyra said.

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