On Wednesday, the West Jordan City Council will discuss changing the mayor’s position from part-time to full-time without changing the city’s current form of government.
At present, West Jordan functions under the Council-Manager form of government where the city manager serves as the city’s chief executive and the mayor is a voting member and head of the City Council. To change to a Mayor-Council form of government would require placing the issue on the ballot for a public vote.
Melissa Johnson has served as West Jordan’s mayor for the past four years and said she does not plan to run again. However, she hopes to significantly boost the position’s pay to be commensurate with its demands.
“It’s a full time job,” Johnson said of the many meetings requiring her attendance. “It’s also a big responsibility to represent the city at regional meetings, not just at ribbon cuttings.”
For example, Johnson views the mayor’s presence at various regional transportation planning sessions as vital to securing precious corridor preservation dollars that help cities preserve future rights of way.
“West Jordan needs to be competing for this money,” Johnson said. More than 105,000 people live in West Jordan, ranking it as Utah’s fourth-largest city.
Johnson, who is finishing up her master’s degree in public administration, pulls down an annual salary of $18,000 as West Jordan’s “part-time” mayor. However, the amount of time spent in that role made it necessary to quit her private-sector job, she said.
Johnson will propose raising the mayor’s annual salary to the median household income established by U.S. Census data — currently $66,899.
“There’s a concern that you’re empowering the mayor with additional authority,” Johnson said of the proposed full-time status, “and we absolutely are not.”
Councilman Chris McConnehey described the proposal as “a sensitive issue.”
“My biggest concern is that if we make a change, I want to be sure it appropriately solves a problem without unintended consequences,” McConnehey said. “It may be that we need to consider changing our form of government to something more in-line with other large cities in the valley.”
At-large Councilman Clive Killpack, who serves as mayor pro-tempore, said he personally can’t see the reason to make the position full-time “because all of our administrative work is done by our city manager.”
“If you’re going to have a full-time mayor and pay a full-time salary, then you should change the form of government,” Killpack said.
Should West Jordan have a full-time mayor?
The City Council will discuss this option and take public comments on the issue during its Wednesday session that starts at 6 p.m. in 3rd floor Council Chambers, 8000 S. Redwood Rd.