Las Vegas voters decided Tuesday to amend the city charter to reduce the pay for City Council members and the mayor.
More than 80 percent of voters chose to amend the city charter. The majority of voters — 1,632, or 54 percent — supported reducing pay to $85 per meeting, while 1,066, or 35 percent, backed $10,000 a year. A mere 11 percent supported the status quo of $19,854 a year.
City Attorney Matt Sandoval said 60 percent of voters needed to support a change to the charter. And because none of the options attracted that much, it looks as if the status quo prevails. The 60 percent rule wasn’t widely known before the election.
Last summer, Las Vegan Steve Gonzales presented a petition with the required number of signatures to trigger a referendum on the salary topic. Gonzales, who presented the wording for the ballot questions, said he wasn’t aware of the 60 percent requirement.
“I think the election went really well. The voters did speak,” he said. “But the three-fifths rule threw us for a curve. Ninety percent of people said they wanted change.”
Council pay has become a hot issue during its meetings. In 2005, Councilman Tony Marquez proposed the salaries for council members and the mayor be halved to $10,000 a year. He has long contended that it makes no sense for council members in Las Vegas to get paid so much more than those in other cities, including Albuquerque. But all of the other council members shot down Marquez’s proposal.
Marquez gained an ally in Diane Moore when she was elected to the council in 2006, with one of her key issues being council salary reduction. Still, the council wouldn’t budge.
Last summer, Councilman Morris Madrid pushed through a two-phase reduction to $10,000 in annual pay over a multi-year period. The $10,000 option on the ballot would have been one step quicker than Madrid’s proposal.