Council, School Committee Pay Increase Hits a Wall

The movement to increase pay for City Councillors and School Committee members has been put in neutral as no formal proposal came before the Council at the body’s last meeting of the year on Monday.

In October, elected officials convened a study group to review pay for the two boards. Currently, City Councillors make $8,000 per year and School Committee members make $6,000 per year. They do not qualify for benefits such as health insurance or expense accounts. The last time either body got a pay increase was in 2000.

The pay review committee – made up of a few residents, business owners and members of the elected bodies – has met twice with various suggestions made and study of surrounding communities.

While there has been discussion of various new benefits like health insurance or city-issued cell phones, the only real recommendation coming out of the committee is to increase pay. The recommendation right now seems to be $14,000 per year for the Council and $8,000 per year for School Committee.

Nevertheless, despite some long discussions, no official proposal arrived at the Council doorstep by the end of the current legislative session, which ended on Monday.

Insiders believe the reason is that there are not enough votes on the Council to pass the pay raise recommendation.

Surprisingly enough, a number of councillors do not favor increasing pay for either body.

Councillor Brian Hatleberg is one of those who said he has reservations about a pay increase.

He said he wants to make sure the Council remains a public service opportunity and not a lifetime job that has more to do with earning a salary than serving the public.

Likewise, he said those against the measure would like to see any additional monies going towards new programs or services – such as beat cops walking Broadway.

The figures do show that Chelsea councillors are paid less than those of surrounding cities.

The average salary for a Revere city councillor is $15,748, with those councillors also eligible for $5,760 in reimbursements for expenses and for City health insurance. Like Chelsea councillors, Everett councillors in 2014 will not be eligible for reimbursements or health insurance. However, Everett’s Council will be paid $15,000.  Malden’s councillors earn $17,500 with health insurance benefits, while Somerville’s Council earns $25,000, with health insurance benefits and $3,100 in reimbursements.

The matter will likely come up again in the new year, many on the Council believed.

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