What Price Do We Pay for Quality Leadership in Springfield?
It seems every couple years the subject of a mayoral pay raise comes up in the Springfield City Council. Earlier this year, the Springfield Chamber of Commerce recommended the city raise the Mayor’s salary to $135,000. That’s 40K more than Mayor Domenic Sarno’s current salary of $95,000. This past month, the City Council’s Finance Committee took the matter up on their own. And this past Monday, a first step vote took place in the Council to move ahead on the proposal. The Council voted in favor without a roll call, as reported by the Republican. There were no objections to the proposal.
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This time around, much of the debate concerning a mayoral raise appeared to be focused on the amount of the raise itself, as opposed to whether or not there should be one at all. Is a $40,000 raise too much? Or how about $20,000? It seemed certain on this occasion that some kind of compensatory adjustment was in order. The only eye-raiser was when the Council followed up that anticipated vote by first-step voting in their own $5,000 raise, upping the City Council’s annual salary from $14,500 to $19,500. (The City Council is a part-time gig.) Back in 2011, the Council restored its pay to $14,500 after earlier taking a $1,450 cut in the wake of city’s ongoing financial woes.
Detractors of any raise whatsoever in the mayor’s salary have said they have a hard time reconciling such a move in light of the city’s dire financial circumstances and while other initiatives in the city go unaddressed. Supporters, meanwhile, argue that if the city is ever going to attract high-quality candidates for the job of running the executive office, some kind of salary increase is due. Successful private industry leaders, they say, are for the most part unlikely to give up their high-level salaries to run a city such as Springfield – even for a single, four-year term — at the mayor’s current pay rate.
The proposed mayoral salary increase would put the Springfield mayor’s pay pretty much in line with similar-sized municipalities. Likewise, at least according to a 2005 Worcester report, the City Council’s pay raise would appear to align them with most in the region.