Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn ran and won office last fall on a pledge to cut spending. So imagine the blowback this week when news broke that, after cutting positions in his office, he gave himself a $15,000 raise.
On Friday, he gave it all back and then some, reducing his salary by $43,000.
“I’m the first to admit I got this one wrong,” he said. “I’m new at this, and it was the wrong way to go.”
KUTV reported Thursday that Bradburn, after trimming $20,000 in other spending in his office, boosted his salary from $147,000 to $162,000 — more than salaries of mayors in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo. He was able to authorize it himself because the increase did not exceed the total budget for his office.
Bradburn said Friday his idea was to give salary increases at the beginning of his term and not raise them again for four years. In addition to staffing cuts in his office, he said, he had eliminated four city lobbyist positions. He said he hoped to see savings of $100,000 a year from the various cuts.
“The idea was that would save a tremendous amount of money, but people blew up at it,” he said. “The idea was just to do the reorganization after the election and then just roll with it. I thought we had good intentions.”
Bradburn said he directed the city’s human resources director Friday to reduce his salary to $119,000 — now the lowest of Utah’s big cities. He also wrote a check to the city Friday morning for $5,601.07, paying back his excess salary and benefits.
“I really don’t have an agenda here, or trying to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes,” he said. “I really thought we were just trying to bring some innovation to government and try and do some different things and save money in the process. My residents saw it differently and I’m here to serve them, so whatever I can do to make that right, I’m happy to.”
Alliance for a Better Utah, which called out Bradburn for his self-awarded raise, was still critical of the move after the mayor’s reversal.
“The issue still remains that he did this,” said communications director Katie Matheson. “Raising and lowering his own salary without having a larger conversation with the City Council — that’s really the issue. It was not a transparent process. What would he have done if he had not been caught?”