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February 7, 2014

Councilor proposes $20,000 raise for Salem mayor

SALEM — Should Mayor Kim Driscoll get a $20,000 raise?

City councilors made that recommendation at a subcommittee meeting last night as they began their annual discussion over whether the mayor’s position ought to be better compensated.

Driscoll currently earns $100,000 a year, a sum that hasn’t changed since January 2010, when it was increased from $80,000. The pay for councilors themselves is 10 percent of the mayor’s, so any increase would automatically benefit them as well.

Councilor Thomas Furey introduced the proposed amendment to the subcommittee on Ordinances, Licenses and Legal Affairs, saying he’d been trying for years to get Driscoll’s pay increased and that there was no excuse for not doing so.

“The mayor’s salary needs to attract the best and the brightest,” he said.

Furey pointed out that Driscoll makes less than mayors in surrounding communities, and less than numerous public employees in Salem, many of whom of she works with. He proposed raising her salary to $105,000 on July 1, and to $110,000 the following fiscal year.

The subcommittee seemed positive about the proposed changes, but then Councilor Todd Siegel took it a step further, proposing a one-time $20,000 bump.

Noting that it might surprise people for him to take that stance — “The mayor and I usually don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things” — Siegel said it wasn’t appropriate to compare Driscoll’s position only to that of other mayors, and that city managers often made considerably more.

Councilor David Eppley agreed, saying he thought it was a “fantastic idea, to increase the salary and match the market,” and even added that he wanted the 20 percent raise to be accompanied by a cost of living adjustment. However, he said that any corresponding raise for councilors themselves shouldn’t take effect until the next term began, in 2016.

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