For the first time in seven years, Ann Arbor’s mayor and City Council are slated to get a raise.
The increase, proposed by the city’s Local Officers’ Compensation Commission, amounts to about a 1 percent bump in each official’s respective salaries — a monthly increase of $35 for Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor and a $13 monthly increase for all 10 City Council members.
The LOCC, a seven-member body appointed by the mayor and council, suggested the increase in a memo before Monday’s City Council meeting. The change will automatically take effect 30 days after LOCC’s memo, unless two-thirds of city council members vote in objection.
The memo proposed that annual pay for Mayor Christopher Taylor be raised to $42,860. Additionally, it recommended that the annual pay for council members be adjusted to $16,073. Currently, Taylor makes $42,436 and City Council members make $15,913.50 annually.
Though the city’s charter states that members of Council — with the exception of the mayor — should serve without compensation, state law allows cities to establish an LOCC, which can then supersede salary provisions in city charters. Under the state law, these changes do not require voter approval, unlike changes to the city charter.
If the raise goes into effect, the mayor and councilmembers’ salaries will collectively total $203,587 for each of the next two years, a $2,000 overall increase compared to previous years.
City Council members gave no indication that they objected the proposed change in compensation at Monday’s meeting.
“This pay raise is just one more cup of coffee at one more meeting,” said City Councilmember Sabra Briere (D-Ward 1). “It’s not a big deal.”
Taylor, who nominated a majority of LOCC’s current appointees, said he was willing to accept whatever determination the commission made, whether that was an increase or decrease in pay.
In an interview Wednesday, Briere said the LOCC did not disclose to City Council members the criteria used to determine the 1 percent pay raise.
She added that the body had asked councilmembers to report how much time they spent doing their jobs prior to meeting in December. The LOCC meets every two years to discuss pay changes.
Briere said that this was the first time she had ever been asked to explain how much time she spent working for the community, and that she had reported working about 30 hours weekly and about 90 to 110 hours monthly.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel I was being underpaid,” Briere said. “I’m not in this for the money. The money is convenient, especially at this point in my life, but I didn’t run for office expecting to make money. I ran for office expecting to work.”
City Councilmember Zachary Ackerman (D-Ward 4) echoed Briere’s sentiment about the increases.
“I don’t think any of us are in it for the money,” Ackerman said. “We’re all in it to serve the community. I know I certainly am.”
Pay increases for the mayor were more common in past years, which saw the mayor’s salary rise from $18,300 for then-mayor John Hieftje in 2000 to its current level of $42,436 in 2009.
Yearly pay for councilmembers saw a similar trend, rising from $9,200 in 1997 to its currently level of $15,913.50 in 2009.
The rest of the city’s employees have also seen increases, ranging from between 1-3 percent in the past four years. Before that, from 2009 to 2012, most city employees saw little to no pay increases as the city experienced budget challenges. Some voluntarily accepted decreases in pay in order to help close budget gaps, such as the Ann Arbor firefighters, who experienced a 3 percent pay decrease in 2010.