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West Fargo City Commission votes to give itself 25% raise

West Fargo city commissioners will soon be paid about 25 percent more each year.

The commission unanimously voted Monday night on the first reading of an ordinance that will raise their salaries from $7,688 to $10,200 per year and raise the mayor’s salary from $11,535 to $15,000 per year.

It is the first time in six years the commission has voted to increase salaries.

The increase is about 25 percent.

Mayor Rich Mattern said City Administrator Jim Brownlee studied the salaries of city governments across the state and found that West Fargo was low.

“(Now) we’re in the middle of the pack, although, I will admit, it looks like Fargo may skew that a little bit because they are much higher than anybody else,” Mattern said.

In Fargo, three commission members earn an annual salary of $25,228, not including benefits, and Mayor Dennis Walaker is paid an annual salary of $29,442. Commissioner Tim Mahoney is paid an annual salary of $27,443 for serving as deputy mayor.

In Grand Forks, a city committee recommended in May that City Council members increase salaries by $8,900 to $14,100 per year.

In Moorhead, the eight City Council members earn $10,212, and Mayor Del Rae Williams is paid an annual salary of $19,476. Unlike in Fargo and West Fargo, Williams only votes in tie-breaking situations.

Mattern said the city wanted to pay current members appropriately but also create a salary that would encourage others in West Fargo to seek public office.

Commissioners Mike Thorstad and Duane Hanson said they thought the new salary for Mattern was low considering the amount of work he does.

“The mayor, he’s really called upon to do a lot of things. Maybe that number is even low,” Thorstad said. “I’m happy where we are at, but I also look forward to future people who are considering running for office.”

The increase will take effect after a second reading of the ordinance is passed, which will likely be at the next commission meeting, July 21.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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