SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 27, 2014

Mayor could get $20,000 raise tonight

By Neil H. Dempsey
Staff Writer

---- — SALEM — The City Council will weigh whether to give the mayor a $20,000 raise tonight.

Kim Driscoll has made $100,000 a year since her pay was boosted by $20,000 in January 2010. An increase to $120,000 a year would put Driscoll’s salary above that of most other mayors in the region, including those in Beverly, Peabody, Gloucester and Newburyport.

The council is obligated to discuss raising the mayor’s salary early each year. If they do, they’ll also be approving a raise for themselves, as their pay is set at 10 percent of the mayor’s.

The council discussed raising Driscoll’s salary to $105,000 last year, but the item died in committee. When Councilor Thomas Furey brought the issue up again earlier this month, it was forwarded to the Committee on Ordinances, Licenses and Legal Affairs, where Councilor Todd Siegel proposed increasing the raise to $20,000, a 20 percent salary bump.

In explaining his proposal, Siegel said it was unfair to compare the mayor’s pay only to that of other mayors, as city managers often make significantly more.

Councilor David Eppley agreed with the proposal, saying it would “match the market” but added that he didn’t think the corresponding raise for councilors should take effect until 2016. He has since said he plans to introduce a proposal to end the link between the two salaries.

The issue passed the subcommittee by a vote of 4 to 1, with only Councilor Arthur Sargent voting against it. He did not explain his opposition at the meeting, and The Salem News was unable to reach him for comment yesterday.

The matter next went to the Administration and Finance Committee, where it passed by a vote of 3 to 1, with only Councilor Josh Turiel opposed.

Turiel said yesterday he’d voted against the raise because he was uncomfortable with its size, though he agreed the mayor deserves more pay and he expects to vote with the majority tonight.

“My preference would’ve been a somewhat smaller amount, but I’m OK with where it went,” Turiel said.

Also tonight, a subcommittee is expected to consider setting the date the raises would go into effect. It will be no earlier than Jan. 1, 2015.

Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at ndempsey@salemnews.com.