City-County Council panel advances pay-hike proposal for members

Members of the Indianapolis City-County Council’s Rules and Public Policy Committee voted Tuesday to approve a 110% pay increase for council members.

The committee’s vote came less than 24 hours after the increase was first proposed. The proposal now goes to the full council for consideration. The full council next meets on Dec. 9. Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, said he would veto the measure if it passes.

Members of the eight-member committee voted along party lines, with Mike McQuillen and Jeff Coats, both Republicans, voting against the measure.

As proposed, council members would see their pay increase to about $21,480 in 2020 and then about $25,000 in 2021.

Councilors are currently paid $11,400 annually, a salary set in 2002. Councilors would continue to receive per diems of $112 for each full council meeting attended (up to 21) and $62 for each committee meeting.

The pay increase was introduced Monday evening by Democrat Monroe Gray, drawing criticism from Republican members of the council who were critical of the timing. Democrats two weeks ago won six additional council seats in the election, giving them a super majority.

On Tuesday night, Coats reminded councilors that the money they’re spending belongs to taxpayers before voting against the increase.

“This is not our money,” he said. “Not everybody gets to vote themselves the opportunity to double their salary. I’m sure there are plenty of people in my district who wish they could do that.”

Blake Johnson, a Democrat, said while he isn’t thrilled with the proposal’s timing, he recognizes there will never be a good time for councilors to give themselves a raise.

The current low pay, he said, might keep some qualified people from running for the council because they can’t afford to do so. Being on council requires a large time commitment, meaning it’s largely reserved for people who have flexible schedules, he said.

“By and large, serving on the Indianapolis City Council requires that you be retired, self-employed, independently wealthy, an executive of your organization or have a spouse that fits one of those profiles,” he said. “That undeniable reality means far too often those without the flexibility are not granted a seat at this incredibly important table.”

If the city wants to be inclusive, everyone needs the ability to lead and have their voice heard, Johnson said.

Several members of the public spoke during the meeting, all in favor of the increase.

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11 thoughts on “City-County Council panel advances pay-hike proposal for members

  1. They ran for office knowing how much time it required and what the pay was. If they didn’t want to commit the hours required and accept the pay then resign. It is that simple.

    1. Do you say the same to the teachers yesterday in the Red for Ed? They knew what the job was when they took it, now they’re pushing for improvements?

  2. I suspect this can be a full time job. (Assuming 2080 hours a year). At $11,400/year this is less than minimum wage.

    It is great that you have dedicated people doing this job for a so little money, but even at $25K a year this is a pretty low paying job for the level of professionalism you expect. Again assuming this to be a full time job, it is less than the $15/hour an hour that many states are pushing for a new minimum wage.

    If you want more perspective, take a look at what a board position would pay for a $1bllion/year corporation. I suspect a councilors job is a lot more work.

    1. It is not a full time job. I would say some pay increase could be expected, but not what they are proposing. I’m not sure how professional some of these Councilors are, as in the way they throw taxpayer money around to developers, business and sports interest and ignoring the general public.

  3. Anyone who thinks public servants should live at below the poverty line is really saying that the council should be made up of patrons of richer interests or rich people themselves. Nobody is getting rich off $25k a year, and this debate is shameful.

    1. These positions are not intended to be your primary source of income. They certainly arent intended to get rich off of it. There are city workers who deserve raises more than these Councillors.

  4. Murray R. You may have a point. I would be interesting to see what the average pay is for a city worker just to have some comparison. Do they get any benefits, like health or retirement?

    1. From what I’ve heard (and this is second hand), and have no reason to doubt these individuals – they do receive medical, but even though its anthem the City pushed the high deductible package. The other benefits arent reflected on highly (visual, dental etc.). Having used to work for the City, I know that the PERF (retirement plan) plan now, is nothing compared to what it used to be. I cant speak for the clerical employees, who Im sure make anywhere from 20-25/grand per year – the professional Staff of the City is very under paid. Particularly if you compare it to not other Indiana cities, but true comparable cities nationwide.

  5. It is very self-serving regardless of intent and qualifications. Have you looked at the pay of other town councils. county commissioners, school boards, etc. I have and the commitment of those good folks who are focused on giving back to the community and are service-minded is impressive. If the taxpayers approved it, this would be a different story but this is what happens when people take advantage of authority or position to better their position and I find it offensive and sickening. If it were a full-time gig, that would be different. Marion County has a multitude of problems that are not being addressed due to lack of funding. This is outrageous.

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