The Queen Creek Town Council voted Wednesday to reduce its benefit package by thousands of dollars to mirror cuts made to town staff benefits.
The reductions were requested earlier this month by the town’s budget committee in response to town administration cutting positions, pay and benefits for the town staff due to the symptoms of a slumping housing marketing and economy.
Last year the Town Council approved salary increases for elected officials, bringing the Town Council salary from $300 to $900 a month and the mayor’s salary from $500 to $1,500 a month. At the same time the council also approved $50 a month cell phone reimbursements and a benefits package that would have the town contribute toward the cost of providing health insurance comparable to what the town pays for its employees.
The benefits were to go into effect with the seating of the new council in June.
The council voted Wednesday to cut salaries by 6.25 percent, remove the town’s contribution toward councilmember health insurance, do away with the cell phone allowance and to reduce the council’s professional development budget.
Councilwoman Lisa Coletto-Cohen led the proposal to make cuts to the Town Council compensation because she said if council members are expecting staff to take cuts during tough economic times, leadership should too.
“Leadership should be top-down,” she said. “We should treat the council in much the same way as staff.”
Councilman Gordon Mortensen also asked for the council to step up, saying it was “unfair” for the cuts to effect staff and not the council. Mayor Art Sanders was absent from the meeting.