Bethel City Council introduced an ordinance last week that would pay its council members for attending meetings. It wasn’t the first time council has considered compensating itself. Five times, a version of an ordinance to compensate city council members has been introduced; five times it has been voted down.
2001 is the first year that someone made the proposal. Council member Dario Notti introduced an ordinance to pay council members $50 for every regular meeting attended. Council rejected it, voting 2-4. The next year Notti tried again, with a $10 stipend for every regular meeting attended. Again, the ordinance failed 1-5.
Fast-forwarding five years to 2007, council member Dan Leinberger brought back the idea for council member compensation. The proposal was again $50 for each regular meeting attended. The discussion dragged across six regular meetings. Ultimately nobody, not even Leinberger, voted for the ordinance. In 2009 and 2010 the $50 per meeting stipend was reintroduced; it failed again both times.
The ordinance introduced last week was the largest council compensation proposal the city has ever seen. The ordinance would pay council members $100 for every regular meeting attended and $25 for every special meeting attended, with budget meetings not being compensated. The ordinance also includes a water and sewer benefit valued at a few hundred dollars a month.
The measure was introduced 5-2. In support were Mayor Fred Watson, Vice-Mayor Raymond "Thor" Williams, and council members Perry Barr, Fritz Charles, and Carole Jung-Jordan. In opposition were council members Leif Albertson and Mitchell Forbes.
City council will vote on the ordinance on May 14 at its regular meeting.