Salary Changes for Boston’s Top Officials

Future Adjustments for Mayor, City Councilors and Senior Managers

Finally, the process for increasing the salaries for Mayor and City Councilors and salary range increases for senior managers worked the way the system intended.  Based on an analysis by expert compensation consultants and the resulting report by the Compensation Advisory Board (CAB), Mayor Walsh’s recommendations were approved by the City Council on June 27th.

Background – The CAB was established in 1986 by ordinance, following a Research Bureau recommendation, to be an objective body, appointed by the Mayor, to depoliticize the salary process and insure a periodic review of salaries. The CAB is charged with assessing and recommending change in the salaries of the Mayor and City Councilors and the salary ranges for senior management positions set by ordinance.  The CAB is required to submit a report to the Mayor in March of every even numbered year.

Mayor’s Recommendations – The salaries of Mayor Walsh and the 13 City Councilors will both increase by 4% to $207,000 and $103,500 respectfully, but not until January after their next elections.  For the City Councilors that is in 2020 and for the Mayor in 2022.   Both last received a salary increase in January 2018.  Starting in April 2018, the Mayor is being paid his authorized annualized salary of $199,000.  The maximum salary ranges for senior management positions increased mainly by 15%, but the Mayor has full discretion to decide the amount and timing of salary increases within the ranges. The Research Bureau recommends that the Mayor base his salary decisions applying a professional performance evaluation standard.

What the CAB Report Says – The Mayor’s salary and range decisions were guided by the report of the Compensation Advisory Board (CAB) submitted in March 2018, but not explicitly followed.  The CAB recommended a 4.2% salary increase for Mayor and Councilors and the Mayor offered a rounded salary number at 4%.   In city ordinance, the 21 top senior management officials are grouped into five levels based on degree of responsibility with salary ranges established for each level. For the three lower levels, the Mayor recommended ranges with maximums less than recommended by the CAB, leaving flexibility for future CAB reports.  The maximum salary for the Police and Fire Commissioners did not change this year.

Professional Support – What distinguishes this CAB report from others in recent years is that the City, through an RFP process, hired a human resources and benefits consulting firm to analyze the senior management positions covered by the ordinance and provide a comprehensive analysis with comparable positions in 18 peer cities.   In recent years, city officials undertook both salary surveys and the subsequent analysis in-house.

Senior Managers – The salary ranges for department heads had not been increased since 2006.  With union middle managers receiving annual salary increases, some department heads are making less than the managers they supervise.  The CAB report noted the challenge of recruiting and retaining senior talent due to Boston’s high cost of living and the City’s residency requirement.

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