- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - They won’t get rich, but Columbia City Council members will start receiving some compensation next month for their service, thanks to voter approval of an annual stipend of $6,000 for council members and $9,000 for the mayor.

The stipend works out to $4.32 an hour for the mayor and $2.88 for council members if they work 40 hours a week - and members say they often spend that much time on council business, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1l24dQX ). Member said the stipends will help them pay incidental costs, reduce the expenses charged to the city and make the jobs more attractive to younger and less affluent candidates.

Council members have been unpaid volunteers since the mid-20th century, when the city’s charter was enacted. Voters approved the stipends in 2011.

Mayor Bob McDavid, 67, a retired obstetrician, said council members have usually been retirees, and he believes younger members would bring “energy” and “creativity” to the group.

Assistant Finance Director Lynn Cannon said in an email that council members will receive biweekly checks starting May 2. They will still be able to seek reimbursement from the city for expenses related to their council work, and the stipends will be considered for cost-of-living adjustments every three years.

Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala, a 67-year-old retired researcher, said the stipend also will help cover professional development activities that cost more than a $2,500 allowance offered to each council member.

“I probably would not have run without knowing that we were going to be compensated at some point,” said Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp, who was elected in 2012. He is a 44-year-old addiction counselor for Phoenix Programs.

Trapp estimates he does about 40 hours of work a week for the council, which doesn’t include time spent in conversations with residents he meets in public.

“People want updates,” he said. “People want to share their input.”


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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