Pay Raises Approved by Common Councilors For Themselves, Mayor, and City Auditor

Dec 2, 2019

Syracuse Common Councilors voted 6-2 to grant themselves, the Mayor, and City Auditor higher salaries. From left, Michael Greene, Steve Thompson, council president Helen Hudson, Khalid Bey, Tim Rudd, Latoya Allen, and Joe Driscoll. Chad Ryan is present but not pictured. Bryn Lovejoy-Grinnell was absent.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Common Councilors will get a raise next month after they approved pay increases for themselves, the mayor’s office, and city auditor.  The final vote at Monday's meeting was 6 to 2. 

Councilors' salaries will jump from just over $21,000 to $30,000 a year, the first raise for the position in 16 years.  Councilor Tim Rudd says it’s reasonable given the expectations of the job.

"It's very much a part-time full-time job, so the hours are all kinds of day, often during the evening, often during the day. [It] makes it harder to hold an alternative full-time job, which means you have other part-time work, which, people who have part-time work understand that it's hard to cobble together an existence. You're overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars of spending, and I think it's important that the people who are overseeing that be paid at least a living wage."

Councilor Joe Carni was one of the two 'no' votes on the pay raises.

"I understand the argument cause it's made at a lot of different levels in other cities that you want to entice people to get more involved with the pay.  At the end of the day, you're trying to find people that want to do the job for all the right reasons. I don't necessarily know that [the salary] should really be a driving factor. I think it should be your love for your community and your want to serve the public. That's why I do it."

But other councilors say the pay hike is warranted because they work at least 40 hours a week, taking constituent calls, answering emails, doing research, and attending numerous meetings.  As for the mayor’s office, Councilor Rudd says that salary increase won’t kick-in until January 2022, after the next mayoral election. 

"We would've given the pay raise immediately, but we do think the mayor position warrants a pay raise. [A salary of] $115,000 for the mayor is not enough. We have police officers who are earning $190,000. So [the mayor's salary] is going to go up to $130,000, so in theory it's there for the next person. But that is his wish, so that's our compromise."

Mayor Ben Walsh has said he didn’t seek the raise.  The pay hike for the city auditor’s office takes effect in January, from $53,000 to $63,000.  Councilor Chad Ryan was the other no vote.