BELLA VISTA – Bella Vista City Council passed a resolution on November 15 setting updated salaries for the positions of mayor, city clerk and city council members, a vote that also means salary increases for each job.

The new salaries, which go into effect Jan. 1, are the product of research conducted by a committee made up of board members Doug Fowler, Jerry Snow and Larry Wilms, who then presented their findings and recommendations to the assembly. of the council during its working session on November 8. , during which the last adjustments were made.

“I want to thank Council Member Fowler for putting together the committee that looked at this issue and did a lot of hard work and justification,” said Mayor Peter Christie. “We saw him again during the working session, and they found a good compromise.”

“This is my fifth year on the board, and the pay comes in from time to time,” Fowler said. “It always seems a little subjective. There has never been a number based on hard facts. Fortunately, we had a lot of data at our disposal this time around.”

The committee extracted data generated for the state of Arkansas that listed salaries for mayors across the state, as well as compensation for clerk and council positions.

“We particularly focused on Northwest Arkansas,” Fowler said.

In examining the salary for the post of mayor, the committee found three categories listed: a minimum wage, a middle wage and a maximum wage.

“The average salary was the actual salary of the mayor of that particular city,” Fowler said. “The minimum and maximum were calculated by adding 20% ​​to the middle to get the maximum or subtracting 25% from the middle to get the minimum.”

He then pointed out that these salary figures would reflect the post of mayor of Bella Vista and not the person holding that title.

“I would like to say up front, just for people to understand, this is not a salary from Peter Christie,” Fowler said. “It’s a mayor’s salary. It’s what it is, and that’s the way it should be seen. And we’re not just talking about today, we’re also talking about going. to the future.”

Fowler said the minimum wage for mayors in Northwest Arkansas is $ 111,440, which is $ 11,850 more than the $ 99,590 listed for the mayor of Bella Vista.

“The thought process was to start a two-year salary progression to meet the minimum range of Northwest (Arkansas) mayors and make the salary more competitive with public sector salaries to spark community interest. for the next municipal election in 2022, “says Fowler.” We are talking about hitting the minimum wage, not the average wage, which is the actual average wage. But we want to make it a two-step process. “

He added: “It’s a job. It’s a full-time job. I know the mayor will attest to that, as will anyone else in town who works with him.”

After studying the numbers and calculating an increase in the cost of living, council landed on a recommendation of $ 109,210 for the mayor’s salary.

“We just did the math: $ 111,440 minus $ 99,590 and halved that number, then added that to our mayor’s current salary,” Fowler said. “We also know that this year, more than likely, the mayors of several cities are likely to accept the salary increases on their own. So if we don’t think about it and add that, we’re going to continue to be late. , and we are not going to let us catch up. So we added a cost of living (increase) of 3.5% to that because that is pretty typical and that is what we usually do for employees of the city. “

The same comparisons were used for councilor and clerk positions, with the exception of Centerton, which pays councilors on a per-sitting basis.

“There was no minimum, average and maximum for city council, but they had the average salary compensation for city council members and the number was $ 12,345,” Fowler said. “And in Bella Vista, it’s $ 8,000.”

After applying the same mathematical equation for the board members, the committee obtained a final amount of $ 9,561, which several board members felt was too high.

And they found it difficult to compare city clerk positions in Northwest Arkansas because of the different job descriptions and hours worked.

“We were pretty comfortable with the mayor’s salary increase, but felt that the increase in council members from $ 8,000 to $ 9,561 would be too big a leap,” Fowler said. “It was like 19.5% even though it was pure math. Then we thought about the salary recommendation for the city clerk, which was $ 20,973 versus an average of $ 25,027. He was therefore recommended during the work session that it looked like calculations done. pretty close to where we want it to be if we go (with an increase of) about 10% for each position. as well as we landed at the figures of $ 109,459 for the mayor, $ 8,800 for city council members and $ 22,000 for our city clerk. “

Fowler said he now believes the board has a system in place that will result in a solid salary structure for years to come.

“I think we’ve developed a process to move forward that we can rehearse and do correct benchmarks and correct averages and come up with the numbers that we basically know where we are at,” he said, “ and that we can make solid recommendations based on those numbers going into the future. “