By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — SALEM — The City Council approved a $20,000 raise for Mayor Kim Driscoll last night, making her one of the highest-paid mayors in the region.
The council voted 9 to 1 to boost the mayor’s salary to $120,000 a year. Since the pay for councilors themselves is pegged at 10 percent of the mayor’s, they’ll also be getting a 20 percent raise, from $10,000 a year to $12,000.
It was the second time in six years that the council approved a $20,000 pay bump for the mayor, the first coming in May 2008. That raise went into effect in January 2010.
The council is obligated to discuss raising the mayor’s pay in the early part of each calendar year. Last year, a proposed $105,000 raise died in committee. This year, when the issue was brought up in the Ordinances, Licenses and Legal Affairs committee, Councilor Thomas Furey proposed a $5,000 bump one year and another the next.
However, Councilor Todd Siegel made a surprise proposal of a one-time $20,000 increase, arguing the mayor’s pay ought to be in line with city managers, who can make significantly more than mayors.
The committee approved that proposal — only Councilor Arthur Sargent voted against it, and he didn’t explain his opposition — and sent it to the Administration and Finance committee. It was approved again there, with only Councilor Josh Turiel voting against it. Turiel has since said that he would have preferred a smaller raise but that he still supported the measure.
Councilor David Eppley originally approved of the idea of a pay raise — and even suggested that it be accompanied by a cost-of-living adjustment — but ended up giving the sole vote against it last night. He said he was uncomfortable voting for his own raise.
“It has nothing to do with the amount of the raise for Mayor Driscoll,” Eppley said. “I was just elected three and a half months ago, I was just inaugurated six weeks ago ... From my own standpoint, I can’t pass my own raise for a job I’ve held six weeks.”
Eppley has said he intends to put together a proposal to end the linkage between the pay for councilors and the mayor.
The raise for both councilors and the mayor will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. Eppley had introduced a proposal that would delay raises for councilors from starting before the next city election, but that motion failed in committee last night.
Councilor Arthur Sargent did not attend last night’s meeting.
Two people spoke against the raise during the public comments section of the meeting.
Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Salaries of other mayors and city councilors in region
City Councilor: $11,700**
City Councilor: $3,000***
City Councilor: $11,500
City Councilor: $5,000*****
City Councilor: $9,450
City Councilor: $16,084******
City Councilor: $28,000*******
*Sum consists of $100,000 base and $6,000 for expenses.
**The City Council president receives $12,333.
***The City Council president receives $3,500.
****Sum consists of $98,000 base and $3,000 for travel expenses.
*****The City Council president receives $6,720.
******The City Council president receives $17,928.
*******The City Council president receives $29,500.
Source: Lisa Cammarata, Salem’s director of human resources