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Friday, January 23, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

Council postpones salary debate until next week

On Thursday, City Council temporarily backed away from a plan that could have members voting to reduce their own salaries.

Council members voted 11-0 to postpone action on the resolution until their Jan. 29 meeting. The resolution 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. Mayor Steve Adler explained that the postponement will give Council members the opportunity to take a closer look at the proposition, then address it further at next week’s Tuesday work session.

Adler explained that his and his wife’s financial position allowed him to sponsor the resolution, saying, “We are in a unique position to able to take our salary and to rededicate it to increase the capacity of the mayor’s office by bringing in additional staff to better handle the constituent concerns … and to deal with new policy.”

He said that in no way was the resolution meant to suggest that the compensation for Council members was inappropriate.

“I don’t know if you all are aware of the time that your Council — the 10 people on this dais — are already spending doing their jobs,” said Adler. “Lest there be any question in the community, the Council members from all 10 districts are earning well beyond what they are paid to do this job.”

Council Member Delia Garza said that she would likely support the resolution, but was concerned about its framing. She said she was worried that working-class people without supplemental incomes may be discouraged from seeking office because of the measure.

“I hope that we can maybe reframe this so we don’t set up a situation where we are in a position like legislators, who earn next to nothing and have to end up working for lobbying firms,” said Garza.

Council Member Ora Houston co-sponsored the resolution, but pointed out that she was retired. She explained that she vowed to be out in the community, and “in my community, you can’t ask people to come to something without offering them something” in terms of food and drink. She said she also wanted to work with paid interns from Huston-Tillotson University.

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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.

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