In tomorrow’s Council meeting, the City Council will introduce an ordinance to increase the salary of the mayor and the council members by 40%.
If approved, the proposed increase will raise the Council’s yearly salary from $5000 to $7000. The Mayor’s salary will increase from $7500 to $10,500.
The council discussed the issue at last week’s worksession and Council member Stullich and Catlin gave a few reasons. First, a hike in salary may convince more residents to run for office. A hike is also needed to adjust the annual rise in cost of living. Furthermore, when we compare Council salaries with other local cities having similar population size, College Park’s Council salary is much less than that of other cities having similar population size. For example, both College Park and Salisbury have a population of about 30,000, yet Council members in these 2 cities make $5000 and $10,000 respectively.
I personally much appreciate the hard work my colleagues do; however I have a lot of concerns about the proposal. I think a 40% hike in salary is too much, not timely and somewhat fiscally irresponsible.
The 40% salary hike is quite above the increase of cost of living expenses and will come at a time when our neighbors are asked to pay extra taxes and many did not get a pay rise. Some even took a pay cut or went through federal sequestration program.
Most of the council members (and our Mayor) do have full time day jobs and thus, I think, having a comfortable Council salary should not be the primary reason to serve the community.
I am not also sure if a hike in Council salary will encourage more residents to take part in the local election. For example, in our district, we had contested race in the past 3 elections.
Most importantly, when the Council compares its salaries with those in the cities, it should also look at the annual budgets in those cities. Population alone should not be the only indicator of the council salary hike. College Park is very unique with its student heavy population, who do not contribute much directly to its income and property tax revenues. Our budget is very small compared to that of other cities having a similar population size. For comparison, the annual budget of College Park, Salisbury, Annapolis, Bowie and Gaithersburg are $14.5, $53.4, $95.6, $43.4 and $56.6 million respectively (all of these cities have comparable population size). The Council should be spending within its means.
A big hike in Council salary will only increase the prospect of a future property tax hike.
The Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed salary hike on October 8 and later on that night, the Council will vote on the proposal.
I will appreciate your comments on this proposed salary hike.