That cheering you don’t hear coming from the streets of Springfield is the sound of city residents not rallying around the Chamber of Commerce’s latest proposal to give the mayor a pay raise.
As Pete Goonan reports here, the Chamber is calling for the mayor’s salary to be increased from $95,000 to $135,000, to reflect the magnitude of the job and to keep it competitive with the pay offered in other communities. (Heck, forget about other communities; Springfield’s mayor makes significantly less than many city employees who report to him.)
“That is akin to running a multi-million dollar corporation, and we believe the compensation that is paid should attempt to be somewhat commensurate,” the Chamber said. “The Chamber simply wants the ability to compete for the best candidates and for the compensation to be consistent with comparable communities.”
This isn’t the first time the Chamber made this recommendation; a few years earlier, it promoted both an extension of the mayor’s term from two years to four (which voters approved) and a mayoral pay raise (which went over like a lead balloon). I can see the point the Chamber is making; over the years, I’ve had a few mayoral-quality folks tell me that moving from their private-sector jobs to City Hall would come with too hefty a pay cut. But that doesn’t mean working and middle-class residents are crying too many tears for a mayor who takes home only $95,000 a year—almost $60,000 more than the median household income in the city.
Meanwhile, as Goonan’s report shows, city politicians seem wary of taking on such a potentially explosive topic. Incumbent Mayor Domenic Sarno said, wisely, he’ll leave that decision to the City Council. Councilor Clodo Concepcion, who chairs the Finance Committee, said he has an “open mind” about the matter but tossed the hot potato to Council President Jimmy Ferrera, noting that it’s up to him to decide how to proceed. And Ferrera said he’s too focused on the MGM casino agreement to think about a mayoral raise right now.