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Boston City Council Delays Action On Pay Raise; Here's How Their Salary Compares To Other Cities

Boston City Council President Bill Linehan, center, is seeking to increase councilors' pay pay by $17,500, to $105,000. The mayor has proposed a smaller salary hike. Here, Linehan is seen at an unrelated council hearing on June 26. (Stephan Savoia/AP)
Boston City Council President Bill Linehan, center, is seeking to increase councilors' pay pay by $17,500, to $105,000. The mayor has proposed a smaller salary hike. Here, Linehan is seen at an unrelated council hearing on June 26. (Stephan Savoia/AP)
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The Boston City Council's politically awkward pay discussion continues.

The council did not take action on pay raises for itself Wednesday, after Mayor Marty Walsh and City Council President Bill Linehan filed proposals seeking different salary increases.

On Monday, Walsh filed a proposal to hike the council's pay by $12,000 — from $87,500 to $99,500. Typically, the mayor's salary is twice the salary of the city council, but Walsh said he would not accept more money. (His current salary is $175,000 and the proposal would make it $199,000.)

Linehan, however, is seeking a higher boost in pay. He has filed a proposal to increase city councilors' pay by $17,500, to $105,000. Linehan is also proposing to increase the mayor's salary by $35,000, to $210,000.

In a hearing Wednesday, the city council sent the two proposals to the government operations committee for further action. The committee will likely issue a recommendation on pay to be voted on at the next council meeting, according to City Councilor Michelle Wu.

Not all city councilors have backed Linehan's raise proposal. Last year, Wu voted against a proposed salary increase and has called it “pretty annoying" that the issue has returned.

If the city council votes to give itself a raise, the matter will go to Walsh, who has the ability to veto the measure. Last year, the city council voted to give itself a $20,000 raise, but Walsh vetoed that pay increase.

The last time city councilors received a pay raise was in 2006, when pay was increased 16.7 percent, from $75,000 to $87,500.

Linehan has said the city council is long overdue for a raise.

The city's Compensation Advisory Board has recommended a raise for the council, but not as much as some councilors want. Instead, the board recommended an 11 percent salary increase for the city council and the mayor, bringing their pay to $97,000 and $194,000, respectively.

The board, which reviews and recommends salary changes for officials, made the recommendation in a July report, where it compared the mayor's and council's salaries to other cities. In the report, the board said the data "do no suggest that a change in salary is warranted," but said it recognized that the value of the current salaries have "eroded over the lengthy time" in which they've been in place.

The 64-page report looked at 10 other cities: Baltimore, Dallas, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle and Virginia Beach (see the comparison below). The report took into account a number of factors, including population size, operating budget, cost of living and power structures in each city.

According to the report, the salaries for both the city council and the mayor fall into the top half of the cities studied.

In Boston, the mayor's salary is usually tied to the council's. However, if the city council approves a pay raise this time around, Walsh will not accept an increase in his salary at this time, the mayor's spokeswoman Bonnie McGilpin said in a statement.

Here is a look at how the Boston city council's pay compares with the other cities the board studied (click to enlarge chart):

Source: Boston Compensation Advisory Board
Source: Boston Compensation Advisory Board

(This chart is an update to a previous look at city councilor pay.)

Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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