I do not support the plan to make Council work for less than minimum wage.

To do the job right, Council members must devote 200 to 700 hours a year. Doing away with health insurance means Council earns $1000 a year. Minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. I spend over 300 hours a year on Council. This is less than $3.33 an hour. Thus, the pay rate would be less than half of minimum wage.

We all value reasonableness and fairness. Even common criminals get this treatment. Some folks view elected officials as little better than common criminals. However, even Council members deserve fair play.

Mr. Hale offers a reasonable solution. This would do away with health insurance and pay Council $5000 a year. I support that plan.

Our city has crumbling streets and a 35 year old fire truck. We have cut expenses to the bone. We do not have the money to fix these problems. This is why I voted, for the third time, to move the city income tax rate to 1.5%. Our focus should be on how we can come up with the funds to fix our streets, replace the fire truck, and provide essential services. Making Council work for less than minimum wage does not make it more likely we can pave our streets, replace the fire truck, or provide good governance.

This is not a typical volunteer job. True volunteers are not responsible for $30 Million budgets like this City’s. True volunteers are not accountable to their whole community. This is why we pay elected officials. We pay folks when we can demand they do a good job. We pay folks when we want them to devote the time and attention necessary to produce good results. We pay folks at least the minimum wage because it is the law.

Council members should have reasonable compensation. It should be comparable to what other elected officials get in similar situations. Most Council members for cities our size earn $5000 to $15,000 a year. Mr. Hale’s proposal would put us at the very lowest of that range.

I agree with the Tippecanoe Gazette that this ongoing debate is not helpful. We need to earn citizen respect by doing our job instead of trying to score easy political points. Let’s fix the Council compensation issue by adopting Mr. Hale’s proposal.

– George Lovett
4/4/2011 City Council Meeting Notes