The Mesquite City Council has decided to give itself a pay raise … but not until 2021.
The council voted 4-1, with Dave Ballweg voting against, to return to the level of pay that the mayor and council received prior to 2011, when that council voted to reduce its salary.
“It’s not a raise for anyone sitting here,” said Mayor Al Litman.
The mayor currently receives a salary of $15,000 annually, plus a travel allowance and the option of health insurance coverage. Council members receive $10,500, plus the same benefits.
Beginning in 2021, this salary will increase to $18,000 for the mayor and $14,000 for council members. The position is considered a part-time job and most of the council members mentioned the salary isn’t really competitive with the amount of time they put in.
The only councilman to oppose the pay increase was Ballweg, who wasn’t on the council when they voted to reduce their pay in 2011, but regularly attended the meetings as a private citizen.
“I’ve struggled with this over and over again,” Ballweg said. “I was in the audience when the reduction came down. There was lots of discussion with reducing pay, reducing the car allowance. There were lots of staff cuts and other reductions in pay.
“But I oppose this increase. I view service on the city council as a public service. It takes a lot more hours than just attending a few council meetings … but our pay is equitable.”
George Rapson said he is not running for reelection, so this increase will not effect him personally. He said the pay increase would hopefully attract a different type of council member in the future.
“Look at the composition of this council, 55 or older, every single one,” Rapson said. “I think there is an argument that this is not a fair representation of this community. It does take time, and there are all kinds of things that come up. You’re not going to attract the young businessman. It does make a difference on who we recruit to run for mayor and council.”
Rapson motioned to approve the ordinance, with an amendment that it not include automatic pay increases. It passed, 4-1.
In other action, the council voted unanimously to approve a tentative map by Crestview Town Homes to approve the construction of 10 town homes on 1.89 acres at Marilyn Parkway in the low-density, multi-family zone. It will be a mix of duplex and triplex, single-story homes.
A number of area residents spoke to the council to vote against the project earlier in the meeting when the council voted for a zone change in the master plan to rezone the property from single-family to multi-family. The residents, who live in single-family homes in the area, said they were assured the property would always be zoned for single-family homes and were concerned their property values would fall with the new development.
“It’s a benefit to have a completed area as opposed to an empty lot,” Ballweg said. “A vacant lot will push your property down also.”
The rezoning passed unanimously as well.
The council also passed a resolution to support Southwest Gas’ efforts to extend natural gas service to Mesquite.