Politics

Mayor Wu seeks pay bump for city leaders

Under the proposal, pay raises for elected officials would not take hold until after the next city election.

Mayor Michelle Wu. Craig F. Walker/Boston Globe

Mayor Michelle Wu is proposing salary increases for some of City Hall’s top positions that her administration says are needed to keep Boston competitive with its peers across the country.

Under the proposal filed with the City Council on Monday, Wu is seeking to increase the mayor’s salary cap from $207,000 per year to $230,000 annually and to bump the annual city councilor wage limit of $103,500 to $115,000.

According to Wu, her administration reviewed salary ranges of positions throughout the city in recent months “to assess and analyze the level of compensation for the City’s elected officials and key leadership positions.”

“Following the completion of this analysis, the Compensation Advisory Board was briefed on the findings and they have issued a set of recommendations about the appropriate salary ranges for the Mayor, the City Council, and various appointed positions,” Wu wrote to councilors. “The purpose of these amendments is to adjust the level of compensation for the City’s elected and appointed officials pursuant to that recommendation.”

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Notably, if the pay upgrades are passed, wage increases for elected officials will not take hold until after the next election, which means Wu and other sitting officials would have to be re-elected to get the new salaries.

Still, some pay bumps would take effect much sooner, if Wu’s proposal is adopted, such as pay range raises for fire commissioner, police commissioner, chief information officer, and corporation counsel.

The salary range for fire and police commissioners is currently $200,000 to $250,000, but the proposal would bump it to between $260,000 and $325,000.

New Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Burke has been offered a salary of $290,000 while new Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox was offered a salary of $300,000, according to The Boston Globe.

A city spokesperson told the newspaper last month the offers reflect “the market rate for major city police chiefs.” Both, however, are above the pay range currently in effect, which means the salaries will need City Council approval.

The City Council last voted to raise the mayor’s and councilors’ salaries in 2018, although those raises were lower, at about 4 percent.

Alex Lawrence, the city’s chief people officer, told the Globe the city’s recent salary study determined some of City Hall’s top positions are between 6 and 25 percent lower than the median of over a dozen similar jobs around the country.

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Lawrence said the city needs “to be able to pay higher” to attract and retain personnel.

Notably, if Wu’s proposal is enacted, officials will not necessarily see immediate pay raises, as the policy applies to pay ranges, not specific or individual compensation.

As the Globe noted, the proposal also does not impact the city’s lowest-compensated workers, such as, for example, grave diggers, some of whom make $37,000 a year when working full time.

As of the 2020 census, the median household income in Boston was $76,298.

Lawrence told the Globe the Wu administration is committed to reviewing how the city’s lowest-paid workers are compensated, but has so far not conducted a review similar to the one completed this year.

So far, Lawrence’s team has conducted studies of specific departments where pay seemed low, Lawrence said.

City Council President Ed Flynn told the newspaper he would support Wu’s proposal.

City Councilor Frank Baker also expressed support for the raises. But Baker also hopes this round of pay raises leads officials to consider raising wages for the lowest-paid workers.

“We’re trying to run a city government, and the pay structure that we have just isn’t enough to attract talent. You can only get so far on, ‘I want to give back to my city,’ or, ‘I want the experience,’” Baker said. “We need to pay more.”

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Read the full proposal:

Wage Ordinances by Christopher Gavin on Scribd

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