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Ogden City Council members weigh 19.6% hike in their own pay

By Tim Vandenack - | Dec 8, 2021
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The Ogden City Council members, clockwise from upper left-hand corner: Bart Blair, Angela Choberka, Luis Lopez, Richard Hyer, Doug Stephens, Marcia White and, in the center, Ben Nadolski.
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Ogden City Councilperson Bart Blair
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Ogden City Councilperson Marcia White
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Ogden City Councilperson Angela Choberka
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Ogden City Councilperson Ben Nadolski
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Ogden City Councilperson Doug Stephens
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Ogden City Councilperson Luis Lopez
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Ogden City Councilperson Richard Hyer

OGDEN — Ogden City Council members are weighing 19.6% increases in their own pay, aiming to keep pace with what their counterparts in other Utah cities make.

They also want to make sure the pay is at such a level that running for city office draws the best candidates.

“There’s never a good time or a fun time to consider your own salary, so we might as well do what we felt made sense,” Councilperson Ben Nadolski said at an Ogden City Council work session on Tuesday, when the officials discussed the issue.

Per the change, the pay of a rank-and-file City Council member would go from $18,814, the base amount for fiscal year 2021, to $22,500 for the first pay period of 2022, which amounts to a 19.6% increase. The 4% across-the-board pay hike for city employees contained in the fiscal year 2022 budget took effect July 1 and that has already partially increased the base amount, to $19,566.

The base pay for the chairperson of the City Council would go from $21,070 for fiscal year 2021 to $25,200. The base pay for the vice-chairperson would go from $19,942 to $23,850.

The council has seven members, Bart Blair, currently the chairperson; Marcia White, the vice-chair; Nadolski; Angela Choberka; Richard Hyer; Luis Lopez; and Doug Stephens.

The increases have been the focus of deliberation among city officials and the topic generated limited discussion Tuesday. Janene Eller-Smith, executive director of City Council staffers, said a resolution adopting the increases, which would boost the fiscal year 2022 budget by $18,450, would likely be considered by the body at its regular Dec. 21 meeting.

Blair said serving on the council can eat up a solid chunk of time. “It’s easily a 25-35 hour-a-week commitment with City Council gatherings, reading materials, the committees and boards you sit on,” he said.

Eller-Smith said there’s an “element of service” that spurs those who choose to serve on the City Council. At the same time, she said the pay shouldn’t be so low that serving on the City Council rules out would-be candidates who couldn’t otherwise afford to serve on the body. “Salary shouldn’t be a factor to not run,” Nadolski said.

Ogden Human Resources Department officials came up with the proposed new dollar amounts, looking at what city council members make in Murray, Provo, Salt Lake City, West Jordan and Sandy. Eller-Smith said human resources officials averaged the pay offered in each locale — which have the same form of city government as Ogden — in coming up with the proposed new pay scales.

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell makes $133,766, which actually exceeds the average in the five other cities, $123,744. Accordingly, his pay will stay the same.

The increases, if approved, may not be the last. Eller-Smith said the city is planning to hire a consultant, Evergreen Solutions, to do a more comprehensive review of elected officials’ pay with an eye to another possible increase in fiscal year 2023.

The pay of unelected city officials was also the focus of review by Evergreen.

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