Prop 1 Asks Show Me Compensation for Council Members

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COLUMBIA - Tuesday Columbia citizens were educating themselves on how to vote come April 5th. One item on the ballot, proposition 1, asks citizens whether or not city council members should recieve a stipend to compensate them for their time and work.

"Most reasonable folks are going to look at this and realize that its probably money well spent in that it will continue to draw folks who are both interested and qualified to do the work that's done on council," said Jason Thornhill, a  city council member.

Under the current law council memebers do not recieve a salary or hourly wage. They are only reimbursed for expenses they incur while serving. Thornhill says he puts in a lot of time serving on the council.

"It's 25 hours a week, it could be more some weeks, less others, but I think that is a fair average," said Thornhill.

If proposition 1 is passed, starting in 2014, city council members would receive $6,000 each year. The mayor would receive $9,000 each year. Both would get the stipend in addition to the reimbursements they already receive.

Supporters of the proposition say paying a stipend would increase the likelihood that people with lower incomes or those who would need to pay baby sitters could run for city council. It would open the opportunity up to more than those who can simply afford to donate 20 hours a week for free.

If the proposition is passed, the city council compensation won't start until 2014 which means none of the current members will be compensated unless they are re-elected.

Not everyone agrees that paying the council members is a good idea.

"What I am against, is we don't have the money in the budget now to pay the city council members," said Daryl Dudley, a city council member. "The amount that is being talked about is $45,000 a year that would go a long way towards either hiring another police officer, firemen, or giving our workers a raise."

If passed, the stipend would increase every three years with the cost-of-living. The first adjustment would not happen unil 2017.