Citing conflict of interest concerns, Prairie Village councilor leads move to back away from council pay for 2017

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Eric Mikkelson

Saying he couldn’t support the passage of a budget that included anything less than a definitive “need,” Prairie Village City Councilor Eric Mikkelson on Monday led a move to back away from tentative plans to consider pay for councilmembers and the mayor in 2017.

The proposal, first floated publicly at the June 21 council meeting, would have provided the mayor up to $1,225 per month and a stipend of $300 per month for councilmembers. At that meeting, the council voted to include $63,000 in its 2017 budget as possible pay for the mayor and council, but noted that the actual allocation of the funds to that purpose would require a future vote.

Mikkelson had been a vocal opponent of the idea from the start. While he noted that he could be convinced that pay for the governing body was merited, he said the idea of current councilmembers and the mayor voting on whether to pay themselves presented a serious conflict of interest. On Monday, Mikkelson read a series of responses his fellow councilors had given ahead of this spring’s elections in which many said that they opposed the idea of council pay. He reiterated his belief that the only way to ethically move toward paying the council and mayor would be to put the issue to Prairie Village residents for a vote, or set up a system in which council pay only began after every sitting member of the governing body had faced reelection.

On Monday, he convinced his fellow councilmembers to reallocate the money that had been tagged for council pay toward money for a special election that could be held to let voters weigh in on the issue. The council could, however, vote to reallocate those funds to another purpose — including council pay — after they have been approved as part of the 2017 budget.