Starting next year, the City of Greenwood will only pay members of most city boards if they show up to meetings.
The city council on Monday voted 7-2 to amend the city’s budget to tie board pay to attendance after a city council candidate and member of three city boards encouraged the council to update the city’s policy, requiring attendance of board members who are paid per meeting. Mike Campbell and Bob Dine voted against that change.
Matthew Smith, a city council candidate and member of the city’s Advisory Plan Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and Overlay Committee, asked council members to make the change after the city announced plans to give members of several boards 50% raises as part of its 2020 budget.
Smith said his request isn’t necessarily due to an attendance issue, but rather a cost-saving measure, and most board members agree with him it is awkward to get a check for a meeting they did not attend, he said.
In most cases, members of city boards either volunteer for the gig or they’re appointed by the mayor or the council. They decide how Greenwood’s TIF dollars should be spent, what incentives businesses should get for coming or growing in the city and whether land should be rezoned, among other things.
"I deal with things just like anybody else," Smith said.
For example, he didn’t make it to the board of zoning appeals meeting last week because his truck broke down on the way to the meeting from work, he said. He took care of the problem and made it in time for the planning commission meeting that immediately followed, he said.
But he shouldn’t be paid for the meeting he missed, he said.
"Stuff like that happens, to all of us. But it puts us in an awkward situation when we get a check for a meeting that we didn’t attend," Smith said.
He has talked to several other board members about this, he said, and in one case, a board member tried to give back money to the city for a meeting they could not attend and were told they couldn’t do that.
"It’s a strange predicament to be in," Smith said.
Mayor Mark Myers and his staff proposed 50% or $50 per meeting — whichever is less — pay hikes for the members of most city boards, including the redevelopment commission, economic development commission, planning commission, board of zoning appeals, police merit board and fire merit board, none of which has received a raise for at least five years, said Greg Wright, city controller.
The city has eight appointed boards and the approximately 40 members are city residents who are appointed to their positions typically by elected officials, such as the city council or the mayor. They make decisions about whether to allow exceptions to city rules when someone wants to open an at-home business or build a garage too close to the property line, or which firefighters or police officers are hired and promoted, for example.
The total budget proposal for next year is estimated at about $38.6 million, including operating and capital funds, a 5.7% increase from this year’s budget.