Bend’s mayor could make twice what city councilors do starting in January, pending approval from the City Council and voters.

A city committee voted unanimously Tuesday to set council stipends at 10 percent of area median income and the mayor’s pay at 20 percent, resulting in an annual stipend of $6,460 for councilors and $12,920 for the mayor. The raises still require approval from the Bend City Council and voters, and they wouldn’t take effect until after a new council is sworn in next January.

Committee member and former Mayor Jim Clinton said indexing the salaries of elected officials to the median income is a smart way to approach pay.

“I don’t know of any other city that uses AMI as an index for its elected officials,” he said, referring to area median income. “I think this is a historic first, and I think it was a really clever suggestion.”

Committee member Brent Landels, who suggested tying the stipends to Bend’s median income, said it could help councilors and the mayor feel the economic pain their constituents experience during downturns.

“If they’re going up and down as the citizens are going up and down, they’re going to feel it,” Landels said.

Committee members were leaning last week toward paying the mayor 25 percent of median income, but they decided to reduce it to 20 percent after debating how much more time the mayor spends on city business than other councilors do. Former City Councilor Chris Telfer said she didn’t see a huge difference in the time spent.

“My concern with the 25 (percent) is optics,” Telfer said. “I don’t know that the mayor spends two and a half times the councilors, and I think you devalue the councilors by doing 25.”

Committee members also discussed adding to the mayor’s responsibilities to justify the pay raise but decided against identifying any additional duties. Instead, they said voters will decide what the mayor will do based on who they elect.

“From a public standpoint, if you’re receiving more than a really small stipend, there is that expectation that you’re doing more,” committee Chairwoman Kathleen Meehan Coop said.

Council rules have expanded the role of the mayor, City Attorney Mary Winters said. For instance, the most recent iteration of the rules clarified Mayor Casey Roats’ role in setting council agendas and gave him the authority to appoint chairpersons of temporary committees.

The Bend City Council will hear the new stipend recommendations during a March 7 work session and vote on them later in March. They’ll only take effect if Bend residents vote in May to remove the current council pay of $200 a month from the city charter.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com

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