Mayor Wu Should Veto 20% Pay Raises for Elected Officials
Recently, the City Council approved a salary increase of 20.8% for both the Mayor and City Council, rejecting the Mayor’s proposed increase of 11.1%. The Mayor has until October 27th to approve or reject the City Council’s proposed 20.8% increase. The Mayor may veto the City Councilor salary increases due to the timing and scale of it. The Mayor’s proposal was guided by the work of the Compensation Advisory Board (CAB). Mayor Wu’s original order also included increases in the salary ranges of senior department heads not adjusted since 2018. The Mayor should veto the City Council’s proposed salary increases as they do not align with the CAB’s recommendations. Additionally, the majority of the City’s collective bargaining contracts are being re-negotiated; so this would set an unsustainable financial expectation for union salary increases.
CAB & Mayor Wu’s Proposed Salary Changes
The City contracted with Deloitte Consulting LLP to evaluate salary ranges for senior-level management positions. The CAB reported the challenges of recruiting and retaining senior talent, and recommended that the salary ranges for department heads be increased to attract quality candidates. Additionally, their report concluded that the Mayor’s and City Council salaries should increase by 11.1% to adjust for cost of living. The Mayor’s proposed order followed the recommendations of the CAB.
The Mayor has the full discretion to decide on the amount and timing of department head salaries within the increased ranges. However, five department heads will receive an automatic increase to meet the new minimum for their respective salary ranges: Police Commissioner, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, Commissioner of Transportation, City Clerk, and Commissioner of Veterans’ Services. The Fire Commissioner’s FY22 salary of $290,000, set before the new salary ranges were approved, appears to exceed the 2018 maximum salary by $40,000. However, the current Fire Commissioner holds two positions, Commissioner and Chief of the Fire Department. He is being compensated for the latter position, which is not an ordinance position.
The Mayor proposed increasing the Mayor’s salary to $230,000 and City Councilors’ salaries to $115,000, an 11.1% increase for both. The City Council rejected this proposal and passed salary increases of 20.8% for both Mayor and City Council, citing the need to be more in line with peer cities. This amounts to $250,000 for the Mayor and $125,000 for City Councilors, which are on the high side of peer cities as reported by the CAB. As provided by legislation, these changes will go into effect after the next municipal election, January 2026 for the Mayor and January 2024 for the City Council. The last time the Mayor’s salary increase took effect was January 2022; the City Council’s last increase was January 2020.