By Mike McKibbin/NewsBreak Denver
[CASTLE ROCK, COLO.] Whether elected, reelected or appointed, the next Castle Rock town council members will earn nearly twice as much as those already on the council. Current council members unanimously approved the first salary increase for local officials in 14 years at Tuesday night's meeting.
Councilmember Tim Dietz brought up the issue.
"We are way behind our contemporaries and a lot of time goes into this compared to what it used to be," he said. "Most of our contemporaries are double or even double and a half where we are now."
Dietz also said most of the current council spend more than 30 hours a week on town business.
Compensation for town officials — fixed by ordinance and codified in the town code — has not increased since 2008. Since then, Castle Rock's population has increased by over 50%. The U.S Census estimated the town's March 2022 population at 81,731.
Salaries more than double current levels
The monthly salaries now in place are $650 for councilmembers, $800 for mayor pro tem and $950 for the mayor. Those last two amounts include the councilmember compensation.
The monthly salary for the next mayor will be $1,500, mayor pro tem $1,250 and councilmembers $1,200.
The ordinance that designates the new salaries noted that "in order to attract qualified candidates to serve on future town councils, it is appropriate to increase the compensation paid to its individual members."
The town council consists of six council members, each elected from the district where they live to serve four-year, overlapping terms and a mayor elected at large. Dietz said the increases would total around $45,000 once all seven members qualify for the higher pay.
Officials can’t give themselves raises
Town Attorney Michael Hyman said the Colorado Constitution prohibits the salary of any elected official from being increased or decreased during their term in office. That means the increases only take effect upon election, re-election or appointment to a new term.
"I’m not up for re-election until 2024, but there are three seats open (this year)," Dietz noted. "I may never see (the increased salary)."
Hyman added he knows of higher salaries in other similar communities, such as Aurora, with part-time council members.
Mayor Jason Gray called the new salaries modest.
"We want to make sure we're still a body that serves and we're not here to make money," he said. "This is kind of like gas money right now."
Councilmember Caryn Johnson said Castle Rock followed the lead of Parker, Lone Tree and Castle Pines. She said all three Douglas County neighboring communities recently increased their salaries for local officials.