District 1 City Councilor Todd Taylor plans to bring a vote on a pay increase for the council before the full body.
The proposal by Taylor would double the annual salary for councilors from $14,000 to $28,000, but would not go into effect until the next council takes office in January of 2024.
At a subcommittee meeting last week, Taylor said the salary increase would hopefully make running for and serving on the council more realistic for potential candidates.
“When I have tried to get people to run for city council, people always say no,” said Taylor. He said people invariably state that it is too much work for too little pay.
“It’s a part-time job, but a pretty busy part-time job, and so I think $28,000 is still part-time pay which is comparable to what other communities are getting,” said Taylor. “I think it should go to the full city council for a vote.”
Taylor said there are a number of people in the community who could be effective, engaged councilors, but cannot afford to serve on the council.
“It’s really to include the people at the lower end of the income spectrum, and there a ton of those people who are dedicated enough and care enough and would put in the hours if they could financially hack it,” said Taylor.
District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero voiced concerns about doubling up the council salary in one go. He said some of the residents he spoke to were in favor of the council getting a raise, but in smaller increments.
Recupero recommended that the council salary be increased $6,000 to $20,000, and that the council also explore the possibility of providing health insurance for councilors.
The $6,000 raise would match the amount of the council’s last raise in 2014, when the salary went from $8,000 to $14,000.
Council President Roy Avellaneda said the Chelsea council makes far less than councils in surrounding communities.
“Even with this increase, we could hang our hat and say this is still lower than all (other councils) around here,” said Avellaneda. “I think part of it is that we have to play so much catch up it seems dramatic, but even then, if I rattle off all the pays of the councils around us, it is still below what the other communities are paying.”
Councilor-At-Large Damali Vidot said she has heard mixed opinions from residents about the proposed pay raise, with some expressing concern that some councilors put in more hours and effort than others.
“Personally, I believe we do deserve a raise, but I don’t know what that amount is,” said Vidot. “I think we should look at other communities with the same population and the same kind of needs. Chelsea is unique in a lot of its needs, but I wish we could dig in a little deeper.”
When it comes to unequal workloads for councilors, Avellaneda said he believes it is ultimately up to the voters to decide if they want to keep a councilor in office. “I think we have gone over everything, so I look forward to a full vote at the city council,” Taylor said at the end of the subcommittee meeting.