Fri, April 10

Resign-to-run rule enacted for future Camp Verde elections

Council member Jackie Baker theorized that a $50 monthly stipend for each council member's expenses should be considered an annual salary. "I don't personally know any other cities and towns that pay their council a flat amount and define it as anything other than a salary," she said during the meeting.

Dickinson agreed last week that council members should be considered paid employees because they file 10-99 tax forms based on receiving the money. Finance Director Dane Bullard agreed Wednesday night, saying, "It's either income or it's expense reimbursements. I don't think it's expense reimbursements. That's income, that's compensation in the IRS's eyes."

Bullard, who said calling it a per diem is a "misnomer," also admitted that the subject is a "gray area" and that $50 a month only comes out to "something like 28 cents per hour," which falls well below the accepted minimum wage.

Mayor Brenda Hauser disagreed with calling it a salary. "I bought a computer for this position. I use my telephone and cell phone for long distance calls," she said. "You probably couldn't pay me enough in salary to make up for those things."

Council member Tony Gioia read aloud a 2000 council statement detailing what the stipend should be spent on, including examples such as office supplies, travel, and meals. He noted that, at only 28 cents per hour, "If you want to call this a salary, I will be really insulted."

Hauser summarized that the evening's discussion had little to do with salary itself, and everything to do with politics. "Basically what we're talking about here is not the per diem," she said. "It's so Tony [Gioia] cannot run for mayor."

Last week, council member Mitch Dickinson attempted to alter the rules for Camp Verde officeholders seeking other political positions. The council did not vote to direct staff to research Dickinson's proposal.

Dickinson had placed an item on the agenda called a "resign to run" ordinance, which would force a council member to resign his or her post in order to declare candidacy for the mayor position or other elected office. He said it would not affect a council member who is up for re-election soon, but only those with more than a few months left in their terms.

According to the time frame of his proposal, only council members Leroy Hunter, John Reddell, and Tony Gioia would have been affected by the ordinance if they were inclined to run for mayor or other office next spring.

Jackie Baker, Howard Parrish, Mayor Brenda Hauser — and Dickinson himself — have terms that expire in 2003 and would therefore have been exempt. Hauser reminded Dickinson of that last week. "This would only affect Tony, Leroy, and John?" the mayor queried.

"Anyone with two years left in their office," Dickinson replied. Dickinson conceded of his proposed ordinance, "It would be incentive for [a person] not to resign to run for mayor."

The motion to rename the $50 as salary was approved by the council on Wednesday night with Hauser, Gioia, and Hunter voting against the measure. Town Clerk Debbie Barber said that the new language would take effect in 30 days, adding that anyone wishing to challenge the concept by seeking a public vote could pull referendum petitions once the council decision was posted.

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