Alamosa council to seek stipend increase


ALAMOSA — Alamosa city councilors will probably be asking their bosses for a raise in November.

Although they do not have to make a firm decision until their September 6th meeting, the Alamosa city council on Wednesday discussed how they might word a ballot question asking their bosses — city residents — for an increase in their monthly stipends.

Currently city councilors receive $400 a month ($4,800 annually) and the mayor $600 a month ($7,200 annually.) Consensus Wednesday night seemed to lean towards a $200 monthly increase with future increases every four years to be determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI.) If approved, the increase would take effect in January.

“I like the idea of a flat increase and combining something with cost of living,” said Alamosa Councilman Charles Griego who pointed out the council had not received a raise in 20 years.

He suggested the city might pose the stipend increase in two ballot questions, one seeking a $200 monthly increase and the other seeking incremental increases every four years in the future based on the CPI.

Mayor Josef Lucero also preferred a $200 increase now with future increases based on CPI.

Councilman Jan Vigil said he preferred asking for an increase based on the CPI, not a flat increase, because he did not want to ask for more than what the CPI would be.

Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks said Finance Director Judy Kelloff estimated what an increase would be, based on CPI from 1997 (the last time the council received an increase) until now, and that would actually be more than $200 a month, or approximately $240 a month.

“I would like to see the stipend increase be reasonable and fair for future councils,” Lucero said, “not necessarily for myself or anybody sitting here. For future councils I think it’s probably the right thing to do.”

In addition to a stipend increase and marijuana-related questions, the City of Alamosa ballot this November will pose a ballot question asking voters to allow the city to opt out of Senate Bill 152, legislation passed in 2005 restricting local governments from involvement with private high speed internet providers, cable TV services and telecommunications services. If voters allow the city to opt out of these restrictions, the city may work with local providers to deploy high speed broadband, staff explained to the council.

Similar opt-out measures have passed in the past few years in 68 municipalities and 28 counties. Municipalities with successful SB 152 opt out elections have ranged in size from Gunnison and Montrose to Arvada and Boulder. None of the counties in the San Luis Valley have opted out yet, but many counties surrounding the Valley have, including Huerfano and Gunnison Counties.

Alamosa City Attorney Erich Schwiesow said the ballot language has to cover the bases legally, but explanatory language can be included in the “blue book,” which provides more information to voters. Schwiesow said he also added “high speed internet” in parenthesis in the proposed ballot question, which refers to “advanced services,” a term voters might not otherwise understand as meaning high speed internet.

Mayor Lucero said he also liked how the ballot question started out: “Without increasing taxes …”

Brooks said the city has no intention of taking over internet itself, but this measure would allow the city to partner with private entities to encourage deployment of broadband. She said the city could apply for grants, for example, or provide utility right of way.

Also related to the election, the city council during its August 2nd meeting approved a resolution to conduct a city election on November 7 and passed on first reading an ordinance approving an intergovernmental agreement with Alamosa County to conduct the election as a coordinated election with the county. In a coordinated election the city pays its share of the election costs. This will be a mail-out election.