AZTEC — Citing heavy workloads and low pay, city commissioners voted to give their 2014 replacements raises on Tuesday.

The additional monthly compensation for the mayor, mayor pro-tem, and one commissioner will take effect after the regularly scheduled election in March of next year.

In 2016, two remaining commissioners will see added pay.

Salary for the mayor will go from $650 to $1,000 per month, which would be $12,000 annually; and commissioners will go from $600 to $800 per month, which would be $9,600 annually.

The change represents a 35-percent increase for the mayor's salary and 25-percent for commissioners.

Compensation for the elected officials was last increased in 2006 for the city, which covers roughly 10 square miles and has a population of 6,667 residents.

The increases are overdue, especially for the mayor, said Eugene Current, who has served as a commissioner for more than three years.

"It's been a long time since raises were approved," Current said. "I'm speaking mostly for the mayor, who is doing a very fine job on behalf of the city. If we paid her what she was worth, people would raise Cain."

The increasing responsibilities and busy schedule of the mayor and commission make the pay hike a sound investment in the integrity of the official body, Current said.

"In order to attract people to take on these roles in the future, we have to be able offer enough so that they aren't going through their personal budgets so much," he said. "At the present rate, it costs us.



Mayor Pro-tem Jim Crowley also endorsed the pay raise as a way to ensure quality representation for the citizens of Aztec.

"This is a step toward staying more competitive," Crowley said at Tuesday's meeting.

A look at elected officials' pay around the county shows a disparity between cities and level of compensation.

Farmington, the largest city in the county at 27 square miles, has more than 45,000 residents. Mayor Tommy Roberts receives $15,000 per year and Farmington council members receive $10,000 per year, according to city code.

Bloomfield, a city of roughly 5 square miles, has nearly 8,000 residents. Its council members receive $5,000 per year in compensation, while Mayor Scott Eckstein receives $7,500 each year, according to the city's current ordinance.

According to state statute, San Juan County, with a population of 128,000, compensates commissioners $29,569 each year. Eckstein is currently chairman of the commission.

Aztec's ordinance allows commissioners to forgo some or all of the compensation they receive. It also stipulates that if a commissioner or the mayor is absent without an excuse, pay will be reduced by half.

"The role of City Commissioner for the city of Aztec is a demanding and involved role," said City Manger Joshua Ray. "We are an aggressive city and we require an aggressive commission. This increase will put the next commissioners in line with others throughout San Juan County and New Mexico."

James Fenton can be reached at; 505-564-4621. Follow him on Twitter