It costs the average Bostonian just $8.60 a year to enjoy all the amenities of its current City Council, Bill Linehan (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, downtown) said today, urging his fellow councilors to support raising their salaries to $108,500 - which would be the first raise since 2006.
The council agreed today to have its committee on government operations hold a hearing on the proposed pay increase before the council votes on it.
Meanwhile, Linehan said somebody has filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission over the potential conflict of interest of councilors voting on their own pay. He suggested the committee invite somebody from the commission to its hearing.
Linehan said the city charter leaves councilors no other options for raises. He smacked down a proposal by councilors Michelle Wu (at large) and Josh Zakim (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, Mission Hill) to set up an independent salary commission after Councilor Steve Murphy (at large) said its last-minute introduction violated charter rules on modifying ordinances. The two will be able to bring up the issue at the salary hearing.
Linehan said councilors get paid less than their counterparts in other large cities and as awkward as it is to seek raises, and that his proposal would work out to the equivalent of 2.5% annual raises since 2006 - compared to the the 2.7% city workers have gotten in that period. He added the council raise would not be retroactive.
Councilors Ayanna Pressley (at large) and Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain/West Roxbury) said they would support a smaller raise. O'Mally called for indexing council pay to the median Boston salary, similar to the way he said state legislators get pay raises.
Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) said people need to realize that councilors, who currently earn about $85,000, face the same cost of living concerns as everybody else. Already, he said, when it gets cold, he has to throw on an extra blanket rather than dial up the thermostat.
Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester), grew angry as he recounted comments from people claiming "part-time" councilors don't even deserve what they get paid now. He said he could have made more money staying at Amtrak than running for the council and that even when he drops his kids off at school, people come up to him with city issues.
"It's a 24-hour job and I don't think we're being treated fairly," he said.
Councilor Charles Yancey (Dorchester) noted that 3,000 city workers now make more than councilors.