GREENWOOD, Ind - Starting next year, members of Greenwood city boards will only be paid for meetings they attend.
The Greenwood City Council voted 7-2 in favor of a budget amendment that ties board members' attendance at meetings to their pay. Currently, most city board members are paid a salary based on $50 per meeting. Members of the Board of Public Works make more than $400 per meeting. The 2020 budget includes a 50% raise for those board members, the first raise they’ve received in several years.
The pay raise includes the condition that board members’ pay will no longer be salary-based, and they will only be paid for meetings they are present for.
The policy change came from Matthew Smith, a Democrat running for a seat on the Council. Smith serves on several city boards and recently missed a meeting because the battery in his truck had gone dead.
“With work commitments and life commitments, it makes it difficult to attend every meeting. And it’s kind of awkward when we get paid for those meetings that we don’t attend,” Smith said.
The conversation also gained momentum after a resident had to wait several extra weeks for a zoning variance because only one member of that board was present and a vote on the matter was impossible.
“People should get paid for the work that they do and not for work that they don’t do. And I think that’s fair. And I can say that as someone who’s personally affected by it,” Smith said.
Council President Mike Campbell voted against the proposal because he says it’s unfair to board members who’ve grown used to a salary to suddenly be paid per diem.
“To change this on them at the last minute without any warning, I think just creates morale problems,” Campbell said. “Any employee knows when your employer gives you something and then takes it away, it’s never a good thing.”
Campbell said he understands and appreciates the principle of the policy, but he also thinks it will discount the work board members do outside meetings on their own time.
“All of our boards and commissions do a good job,” Campbell said. “They all have reports they have to read, they often visit the sites that are in question. And I think this takes away from that.”
“You can do all the research you want, but if you don’t show up to do the vote, then what good has that research done,” Smith said. “I would say not a lot.”
Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers, says most appointed members of city boards don’t do it for the money, and the new policy likely won’t save the city a significant amount of funding. He says board attendance isn’t generally a problem.
However, Myers also said the new policy will send a message about accountability and handling of taxpayer dollars.
“You’re making a point that you’re expected to show up for meetings and that you’re paid to show up for meetings,” Myers said. “This is a good thing for the community. It’s a good thing to show that we’re being better stewards of our money.”
The new policy would be part of the city’s $38 million 2020 budget, set for a final vote on October 21.