Boston City Council Gives Itself a Raise

The council voted 9-4 to raise their salaries to $99,500.

In an extremely impressive display of election year chutzpah, the Boston City Council voted 9-4 on Wednesday to increase the salary for councilors to $99,500.

The controversial vote to raise councilor salaries by 14 percent comes just six days before the sleepiest municipal election in memory. It’s not a surprise that a majority of councilors voted for the raise because, well, nearly all of them are running unopposed this time around.

The vote went as follows:

President Bill Linehan
Michael Flaherty
Tito Jackson
Matt O’Malley
Sal LaMattina
Frank Baker
Mark Ciommo
Steve Murphy
Tim McCarthy

Charles Yancey
Ayanna Pressley
Josh Zakim
Michelle Wu

The only real surprise in the vote was O’Malley, who explained his vote as a push to to tie future council pay to the city’s median income. Pressley, an opponent of the salary increase, is on board with O’Malley’s idea. The joint proposal would also end the practice of councilors voting on their salaries.

Yancey, facing the reelection battle of his political life, changed his vote after initially supporting a pay increase in 2014.

Flaherty brought the vote to the floor after it languished in the Government Operations Committee. He told the Boston Globe in an interview that the move to vote on the proposal before the election was “the right thing to do,” in order to provide some transparency regarding who supported the raise. The council had the option of doing nothing and letting the proposal automatically become law on Election Day according to an obscure law in the city’s charter.

The move brings a possible end to the drama over council salaries that began back in 2014 when Linehan proposed an increase from $87,500 to $112,500. The proposal was eventually amended to $107,500 but it later died when Walsh vetoed the increase over concerns regarding how the council arrived at the new salaries and resurrected the city’s Compensation Advisory Board, which recommended a salary of $97,000.