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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Monday, January 19, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano
Council members consider cutting their own pay
On Thursday, as one of their first official acts as an elected body, City Council members will consider taking an action that could reduce their salaries.
Specifically, the resolution on Thursday’s agenda directs the city manager to change the current office budgeting structure to allow Council members to decrease their individual compensation and shift funds within their offices.
According to the resolution, “The current process does not give the mayor or Council members the option (without a budget amendment) to decrease their individual compensation set in the city’s budget and shift those funds to other areas of their office budgets.”
Mayor Steve Adler is the sponsor of the resolution, and Council Member Ora Houston co-sponsored the item. On election night, directly after her victory, Houston told the Monitor that one of the first things she hoped to do was roll back the salary increase that was approved last year.
The total budget for mayoral and Council offices is $4.026 million this fiscal year. That’s about $346,000 per Council office, and about $525,000 for the mayor’s office. That money goes toward paying the salaries of five other employees in the mayor’s office and three additional salaries in the offices of each Council member.
After the latest raise, the mayor earns about $82,000 annually. Council members earn just over $70,000. Currently, raises for Council are automatically calculated and approved with the budget, along with pay raises for city staff. Other local officials, such as the Travis County Commissioners, must openly vote to increase their own salaries.
This process has allowed for a 3.5 percent salary increase for Council members each year since it was enacted in 2006. In accordance with the ordinance that established the process, Council receives the same increase in pay as non-sworn staff when such increases are approved as part of the budget process.
The resolution directs the city manager to present the revised process to Council on Jan. 29, which will be the new Council’s first full meeting.
This story has been updated to clarify the current process that dictates City Council salary increases.
The full 2014-2015 city budget, excerpted below, is available in its entirety here, for the intrepid.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.
city budget: The city’s plan for expenditures based on income.