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South Salt Lake Council denies mayor a pay raise 7 years after last mayoral salary raise

South Salt Lake Council denies mayor a pay raise 7 years after last mayoral salary raise

(Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL File)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

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SOUTH SALT LAKE — Council members on Wednesday rejected an ordinance that would have seen the mayor’s yearly salary raised from about $81,400 to about $86,400. The members also unanimously shot down an ordinance that would have authorized a pay raise for council members, as well.

During their regular meeting Wednesday, several council members pointed to new stormwater drain fees that may soon go out to city residents. For that reason, it might not be proper for elected officials to get raises, Councilman Shane Siwik said.

“I think it would be a good sign to the community that all elected officials have foregone a raise this year,” he said during the meeting.

The council members voted to deny the ordinance authorizing the raise by a narrow 4-3 vote.

The office hasn’t been granted a raise since 2011, said Mayor Cherie Wood, who has been in office since 2010. Council members have previously said they want to make city salaries more competitive with other cities in the region, Wood said.

“I think the council’s action last night raised some questions for me, given the lack of discussion, lack of resident opposition, and their prior stated desire to make city salaries competitive,” she said in an interview with KSL.com.

With municipalities that have a full-time mayor, such as South Salt Lake, council members can raise the mayor’s salary when they authorize raises for other city employees, according to Wood. However, Siwik said he thought if some of the city’s elected officials don’t get a raise, none of them should.

Councilwoman Sharla Bynum countered by saying a mayoral raise was briefly discussed in 2014 but not authorized. It’s different for Wood, who works full-time, compared to council members, who don’t work as many hours for the city, she said.

“I don’t think that’s fair when it’s your full-time job,” Bynum said in the meeting. “She’s due for a raise.”

Compared to other mayors in the area, the South Salt Lake mayor’s salary should be higher, Bynum said.

Of several full-time mayors in the region, Sandy’s mayor has a yearly salary of nearly $147,000 yearly, and Murray’s mayor has a salary of about $115,394 each year, according to documents on Riverton City’s website and city officials. West Jordan’s mayor makes just under $90,000 per year, and Taylorsville’s mayoral salary is almost $86,000 yearly.

In Eagle Mountain and Midvale, two cities with roughly similar populations to South Salt Lake, the mayors make less, however. The mayor in Eagle Mountain has a yearly salary of $70,000, while the Midvale mayor's salary is $45,000.

Those numbers are as of December 2017. City officials in Sandy, Eagle Mountain and Midvale did not return calls and emails asking if the numbers were still accurate.

Wood told KSL.com she was somewhat surprised by the council’s vote, but she wasn’t sure how the vote would turn out.

“I didn’t really have an idea one way or another,” she said.


I was a little surprised by the council’s reaction to Councilwoman Bynum’s comments. I personally don’t feel that they were accusatory, so it was a little surprising last night.

–Cherie Wood, South Salt Lake mayor


A brief, but tense, exchange followed the council’s vote on the mayor’s salary after Bynum said she wondered if Wood being a female had anything to do with the council’s vote to deny her a pay raise.

In 2014, when a raise was previously discussed for the mayor, the council was a “boys' club,” and the raise wasn’t brought to the table, said Bynum, who was a council member at that time.

Several other council members quickly said Bynum’s remarks were inappropriate, while Siwik and council member Ben Pender both said they took offense from her comment.

Female Councillor Corey Thomas also voted to deny the pay raise ordinance during Wednesday’s meeting.

Wood told KSL on Thursday that Bynum’s comment possibly had something to do with the fact that Wood has brought four different female candidates for heads of city departments before the council within the last two years. None of them were approved by the council to be department heads, she said.

“I was a little surprised by the council’s reaction to Councilwoman Bynum’s comments,” Wood said. “I personally don’t feel that they were accusatory, so it was a little surprising last night.”

Earlier this year, Sandy's Mayor Kurt Bradburn accepted a $15,000 raise before apologizing and returning it. At the beginning of his term, Bradburn had decided to increase his salary from $147,000 to $162,000 as part of an office restructuring intended to consolidate staff and save money. Then after backlash, on Feb. 16 he told the city's human resources director to reduce his salary to $119,000.

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