Come May 15, Bend residents will be asked to change the city’s governing charter. Two issues will be on the ballot: One may boost councilors’ pay, while the other would provide for a directly elected mayor. Wisely, councilors have decided to let voters know before the election how much council pay would increase if the charter amendment is approved.
Currently Bend city councilors receive a monthly stipend that has not changed in more than 20 years. Yet in addition to City Council meetings, they attend committee meetings and public events and meet with constituents and are expected to keep up with enough reading to put even the most ardent political junkie to sleep.
All for $200 a month.
Councilors cannot simply vote themselves a raise. That won’t change. Any pay increase would not take effect immediately.
The Council formed a compensation committee on Feb. 7 that will recommend how much the council should be paid. The seven-member group — including two former mayors, one former council member and four members of the charter review committee — is expected to have come up with a new stipend figure by March 7.
As they work, committee members must keep a couple of things in mind:
The Bend City Council is and should remain at most a part-time endeavor. The stipend should reflect that. Councilors and the mayor volunteer their services for the good of the city. They are, largely, a policy body that gives paid staff members broad direction. The staff runs the city in light of council’s decisions.
Service on the council requires much time and commitment, but there is no need for it to become a full-time job. Compensation should reflect that.