Walsh vetoes City Council pay raise

Mayor Martin Walsh will veto the City Council’s $107,500 pay raise approved by the council earlier this month, the Reporter has learned.

A source close to the mayor says he filed a response back to the council saying “we need to take a fresh look at this” and called for a newly appointed Compensation Advisory Board.

The Boston City Council voted to raise the body’s annual pay to $107,500 earlier this month, up from an annual salary of $87,500. City Council President Bill Linehan initially proposed $112,500. The pay raise was supposed to take effect in January 2016 following next year’s city council.

A previous Compensation Advisory Board recommended to then-Mayor Thomas Menino that council salary should be increased–and was summarily ignored by Menino. Recommendations for council pay raises are invested in the advisory board. At a hearing called on Sept. 29 to discuss the potential pay raise, councillors questioned the potential politicization of the board, given that all five of its members and its chair are appointed by the mayor.

In one possibility recommended at the hearing to discuss the pay raises on Sept. 29, the councillors’ pay would be tied to the mayor’s, with them receiving half what the mayor earns. That option is off the table as Walsh is not seeking a pay raise, mayoral spokeswoman Kate Norton previously confirmed.

Linehan and others, including Councillor Frank Baker, who represents Dorchester, said that the raise, the first in nearly a decade for the council, was important to pass, estimating it could take another “10 years” for the council to successfully pass another raise.

The measure passed nine to four at the Council meeting on Oct. 8, with Councillors Frank Baker, Mark Ciommo, Michael Flaherty, Tito Jackson, Sal LaMattina, Bill Linehan, Tim McCarthy, Steve Murphy, and Charles Yancey. Yancey said he still supported the initial $112,500 proposed by Linehan and that the Council salary does not pay enough to purchase a home in the city of Boston today.

Councillors Michelle Wu, Josh Zakim, Ayanna Pressley, and O’Malley all voted against the $107,500 salary.

Before casting her no vote against the pay raise, Pressley told the council that $107,500 still seemed “too high.” Pressley previously told the Reporter that $98,000, a number recommended in 2013, proved a “fair basis, but I don’t want to be irresponsible here and propose a specific number because there are a lot of things to be considered around median income and cost of living and inflation.” She also said she supports a proposal by Councillor Matt O’Malley of Jamaica Plain that would index councilor pay in a similar process to the legislators on Beacon Hill.

At that hearing, the council lamented the “awkwardness” inherent in voting on their own pay raises. Pressley told the Reporter she hoped the council would establish the mechanism to take the proposed raises out of the council’s hands.

At the Sept. 17 council meeting, Wu and Zakim introduced an ordinance proposal that would create an independent commission of citizens that would weigh pay increases. That proposal was thrown out because of a technicality and cannot be refiled until action is taken on the pay raises.

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