Next county council will be part time no matter how many hours they work

Grand County Change of Form of Government Study Committee Member Walt Dabney agrees with his peers that the next council will remain part time. Photo by Doug McMurdo

Whether they work 60 hours a week or 10, members of the next Grand County Council will be considered part time – should voters ultimately approve the change in the county’s form of government currently under discussion.

The decision was one that made sense to all seven members of the Grand County Change of Form of Government Study Committee who spent only a few minutes discussing the issue at their Friday, Aug. 2 meeting before the unanimous vote was taken.

The decision was one of the last big ones the committee will have to make. In what has turned out to be a busy few weeks, study committee members have now voted on a five-member governing board rather than three, seven or nine; that it will be a council rather than a commission, one with an appointed manager and not an elected executive; and that three seats will be at-large, meaning all voters get to choose them or not, and two will be by district. This will allow voters to pick four of five members.

“The council is expected to be a part-time job,” said Member Bob Grenberg, who participated telephonically, since a manger will be hired to handle the day-to-day operations, an opinion that found easy consensus.

That isn’t to suggest there wasn’t discussion regarding the current council and the fact some members work long hours each week while other members don’t. Also, there was a financial reason to go with part time since full time is defined as anyone working 40 hours a week. Such employees are eligible for benefits. The current council is part time and members do not earn benefits.

“What we’re really talking about is wages … is this a full- or part-time salary,” said Member Cricket Green.

Added Greenberg, “I’ve spent time on a lot of boards and got cups of coffee and an occasional free lunch.”

A discussion on compensation will be held later, but it was noted that each of the elected officials or department heads the committee interviewed earlier in the process agreed the current level of council compensation was appropriate.

The council last winter in a controversial decision approved pay raises for all county elected officials, including themselves, for the first time in years. Their pay increased three-fold from roughly $11,000 per year to $31,000 per year for members, with the chair earning an additional $5,000.

The committee next meets at noon Friday, Aug. 9, inside council chambers at the Grand County Courthouse.