Colfax pay raises will not go into effect until 2014

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  A pay increase for Colfax Village Board members will have to wait a year.

Although the Colfax Village Board approved pay raises for village trustees at the February 25 meeting with the understanding that those increases would go into effect after the April 2 election, state law prohibits board members from approving a pay increase for themselves when they know who will be on the ballot for the next election.

Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, brought the issue to the attention of the Colfax Village Board at the April 8 meeting.

According to Wisconsin statute 61.193 (2), “compensation for an elective village office shall be established before the earliest time for filing nomination papers for the office, or if nomination papers are not used, before the caucus date … After that time or date, no change may be made in the compensation for the office that applies to the term of office for which the deadline or date applies. The compensation established for an elective office remains in effect for ensuing terms unless changed.”

In other words, the Colfax Village Board would have had to approve a pay increase for village trustees before December 1, 2012, which was the first day candidates could circulate nomination papers for village trustee, if the pay increase were to go into effect after the April 2 election this year.

Since the increase was approved at the February 25 village board meeting, the pay increase cannot go into effect until after the election in the spring of 2014.

At the February 25 meeting, village trustees approved a pay increase that amounts to about $500 per year.

Colfax Village Board members currently receive $1,000 per year plus $10 per meeting.

The village president earns $1,200 per year along with $10 per meeting.

Village board members agreed that the time since the last pay raise could have been longer than ten years because none of them remembered getting a raise.

The village board unanimously approved a motion to pay trustees $1,250 per year and the village president $1,550 per year, plus $20 per meeting.

Incumbent village trustees Chris Olson, Susan Olson, Beverly Schauer and Scott Gunnufson were up for election April 2.

Chris Olson and Scott Gunnufson both also ran for village president, and Gunnufson was a candidate for a one-year term for trustee since the position had recently been filled by appointees.

Anne E. Schieber was on the ballot for trustee in April as well.

Gunnufson won the election for village president.

Susan Olson, Beverly Schauer and Anne E. Schieber received the most votes for village trustee.

Ponto contacted other municipalities to find out how Colfax’s village board pay compared to other cities and villages.

Spring Valley, with a population of 1,586, compared to Colfax at 1,160, pays village board members $1,000 per year, the president $1,500 per year, and pays $15 per committee meeting.

Glenwood City, at a population of 1,242, pays city council members $200 per month (or $2,400 per year), pays the mayor $400 per month (or $4,800 per year), and pays $25 for extra meetings.

The other 17 municipalities that responded to Ponto’s survey are not located in this area.