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10 years, 10 percent? Mayor, council salaries sit at 2009 rates

Farmington City Hall. File photo

FARMINGTON—City Council members debated the merits of a salary increase for mayor and themselves during an April 9 council work session.

Discussion arose from a goal-setting workshop.

David McKnight, city administrator, explained that the wages are part of the city code. Now the annual salary for the mayor at $8,040. Since 2009, City Council members have received $7,020.

"I would think 1 percent per year increase on both sides, if we were going to go that route," Council member Katie Bernhjelm.

"The amount is so small and it is not like we are talking about major dollars but it is a time-consuming position. I think that is important to recognize with council meetings and workshops and other meetings we sit in on and the time it takes to prep for these meetings is appropriate after 10 years," Bernhjelm added.

McKnight provided a review of what other Dakota County cities pay. The average compensation is $10,391 for a mayor and $7,792 for a council member.

In Rosemount, the mayor is paid $9,200 and council members receive $7,000 annually. In Hastings, the respective salaries are $8,400 and $6,000, while Lakeville pays $9,996 and $8,663. Apple Valley pays its mayor $12,384 and its council $8,868.

"It is important to note that some cities provide additional compensation or benefits," McKnight said. These could include technology stipends, insurance and per diem for other meetings. Such compensation has not come up in Farmington discussions, McKnight said.

Mayor's public role

Council member Robyn Craig said she thinks the mayor's salary needs to be raised a little more than any council increase.

Farmington Mayor Todd Larson said the personal requests to attend events and functions are quite numerous and he has learned how to say "no."

"If I said yes to everything, it would be three or four times a week," Larson said. "I get hit up for fundraising all the time and I can never say no," he added.

Craig said any increase for the City Council should be no more than a 10 percent increase.

"If we get a 10 percent, we are still below the average," Terry Donnelly said, adding that 10 years is a long time. "You would not go 10 years at your regular job without an adjustment."

Ten percent would be roughly $7,700, up from $7,020.

"I would love to say this is a volunteer position, but you are putting work into it and it is managing a $12 million budget," Bernhjelm said. "I think you have to have some sort of incentive to attract some qualified individuals for this position."

From 2001 to 2008, the salary for the mayor was $5,040 and council members were paid $4,020 per year. Prior to 2000, the mayor and council members were paid $3,000.

Farmington City Council may act on the salary review during its Monday, April 16, regular meeting.

If the council votes to raise compensation, the city go through the legal process of changing its ordinance. The increases then could take effect Jan. 1, 2019.