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City Councilor Proposes Ending Council's Ability To Adjust Own Salaries

This article is more than 9 years old.

Without recent oversight recommendations, a Boston city councilor says he wants to put an end to council members deciding upon adjustments in their own salaries.

Councilor John Tobin put forth a proposal Wednesday that would automatically tie pay increases — or decreases — to an economic indicator such as the consumer price index.

"We should not be in the habit of voting for our own pay increases," Tobin said to WBUR.

Currently, the Boston City Council has such voting privileges, though any pay hikes they approve are also subject to review by the Boston Compensation Advisory Board.

But that board, which is supposed to issue biannual recommendations regarding the salaries of elected officials, has not released anything since 2006 — the last time the city councilors, who make $87,500 per year, got a raise.

"Right now, I don't even know who the director of Compensation Advisory Board is," Tobin said.

Sam Tyler, the president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, said the board is being quiet because it would be politically awkward to talk salary adjustments during a recession or in early stages of economic recovery.

"It's a recognition that this is a tough time to be talking about salary increases for elected officials," Tyler said.

Tobin doesn't want to make that conversation public, either.

"At this point in the economy in the city of Boston and our country, to have public hearings or even conversations around pay increases for elected officials is political suicide," Tobin said.

Tyler agrees that council members should not be able to vote on their own salaries. But he thinks the solution is fixing the advisory board, rather than creating an automatic pay adjustment mechanism.

"It would be automatic irrespective of the situation of the city, and that would in a sense create other political problems if there was a matter of layoffs or wage freeze requests when city council salaries would increase," Tyler said. "It could be in a situation where City Council would receive an increase in salary when others are not."

This program aired on February 24, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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