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West Jordan Council votes intent to expand mayor's job

Published May 22, 2013 10:35 pm

Members agree to full-time position but not on compensation.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Jordan • City Council members in Utah's fourth largest city voted Wednesday to draft intent language that would reclassify the mayor's job to reflect its full-time nature. However, they reached no agreement on how much the expanded role should pay.

The 5-to-1 vote — Council member Clive Killpack voted against the motion and Councilman Chad Nichols was absent — came after vigorous discussion about the mayor's role and what the change would signify.

During public comments, former councilman Mike Kellermeyer spoke in favor of the proposal.

"This is what I want as a citizen," Kellermeyer said, noting he felt quite differently five years ago. "I want to see a full-time mayor that is fighting for our city at every intergovernmental board, committee and setting."

West Jordan currently operates under a council-manager form of government where the mayor earns a part-time salary of $18,000 and serves as a voting member of the City Council.

Mayor Melissa Johnson will not seek re-election this fall, but she led the charge to reclassify the job and raise the pay for her successor. However the effort falls short of changing to a mayor-council form of government, where the mayor serves as the city's full-time chief executive.

That would require a ballot measure that goes to a vote of the people.

West Jordan resident Cynthia Bee also spoke in favor of the change.

The nearby city of Sandy, headed up by full-time Mayor Tom Dolan, "has kind of eaten us for lunch in terms of getting funding," Bee said, adding that West Jordan needs a seat at the table.

Johnson said she quit her private-sector job because she spends well over 40 hours per week representing the city and attending regional meetings where funding is discussed and allocated.

"We have received over the past 3½ years, because of my direct involvement in these meetings . . . more than $16 million," Johnson said.

Killpack voted against the motion due to concerns about the lack of a job description and how much compensation the expanded role would draw.

Before voicing his support, Councilman Ben Southworth announced his intention to run for mayor, noting he had made that decision well in advance of Johnson's proposal.

Several attempts to set the expanded job's new pay and benefits failed Wednesday, with city staff directed to return later with recommendations.

The filing period for municipal races is June 3 to 7. The mayor's new job description and salary could be voted on in a special council meeting next week or postponed until June 12. Candidates who file for office can withdraw their names up until June 18, Johnson said.

cmckitrick@sltrib.com

Twitter: @catmck