All work for little pay, Ottumwa's elected officials don't mind their part-time salaries

Ottumwa's City Council members make about $4,000 a year, while the Mayor makes $9,000./KTVO

A full-time job for a part-time salary. Being an elected official is not as easy as it may look.

In smaller cities like Ottumwa, the City council makes about $4,000 a year, and the mayor gets paid $9,000.

While the public typically sees their council members and Mayor at certain events and meetings, but that doesn’t mean they’re only working a few hours out of the week.

“There are many hours of leg work leading up to that council meeting every other week, so I would venture to guess that each of the council members are probably spending no less than 15, 20 hours a week on top of the couple hours they’re spending in council chambers,” said Ottumwa Councilman Marc Roe.

With all that work, plus the full-time job they have outside of City Hall, Roe says your elected officials are in this position because they want to be.

“I’m assuming that nobody’s doing it to get rich because you’re in the wrong line of work if you’re doing it to get rich,” said Roe. “I mean really, you’re doing it for the betterment of your community because the money’s not there.”

Ottumwa Mayor Tom Lazio says the money is an added incentive that attracts people with different backgrounds to work in local government.

“You want people to be able to both work and be free from work so they can do this because you want a good variety of people to run for city council and mayor,” said Lazio. “So, it’s got to be at least worth their while to do it.”

Nonetheless, he thinks with all the hard work councilmembers put in, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a raise.

“They’re putting in a fair amount of time and that’s personal time and takes them away from their families or other activities they could be involved with,” said Lazio.

But a raise isn’t something that’s on the councilmembers minds right now. Roe says with the city’s current budget problems, it just wouldn’t be right.

If City Council were to vote on a salary increase, that raise wouldn’t go into effect until the next term.

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