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Should City Council members be paid? Newport to ask volunteers to decide

A man takes a picture of a bridge over a bay.
Quinton Smith
/
Yachats News
The Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Oregon.

Newport is looking for volunteers to decide if, or how, city council members should be paid.

Some council members fear the amount of work they’re doing for free is preventing parents and people of color from running for office.

During a meeting Monday, council member CM Hall said compensation doesn’t have to be a paycheck. It could be reimbursement for childcare, a city cellphone, or an employee pass to city-owned aquatic facilities.

‘“Sometimes we hear in the community 'you all should get paid.'” Hall said. “Honestly, for the hours we put in, the city doesn't have that kind of budget. But, is there some non-monetary form of compensation?”

Newport has been trying to recruit volunteers to develop a compensation proposal for over a year.

On Monday, City Council asked staff to start work on creating a smaller work group - three members instead of five - to determine whether they should be paid.

That group’s proposal would either go to the city council, or to voters. If the city council approved a compensation proposal, it would go into effect in 2025 for the mayor and half of the city council, and in 2027 for the rest of the city council.

If the city council sends the group’s proposal to voters - it could go into effect anytime after it's passed.

Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.