Many Ann Arbor residents were surprised at the City
Council’s recent 9 to 2 vote to more than double the
mayor’s annual salary, in the midst of a $5.29 million city
“That’s such a steep raise for the mayor. I wonder
why they did it all at once,” said Ben Mankoff, a six-year
“If it doesn’t raise taxes, I’m all for
it,” he added. “I’d like to know that the City
Council can devote all their time to the city, and it would be nice
to know they have a wage that allows them to do that.”
But Mayor John Heiftje said the raises will have little overall
impact on the city budget.
“It’s $32,000 out of an $82 million budget,”
Heiftje said, adding that while the position of mayor is a
full-time job, he is only paid $18,300 per year.
“I haven’t been able to do my other job (as a
realtor) for the past couple of years,” he said.
The raise brings Heiftje’s salary up to $40,000, and it
also increases the pay of members of the City Council from $9,800
to $12,000 for the next two years.
Many members of the council have other jobs and feel that for
the sacrifice involved in being a public servant, they should earn
“I spend a great deal of time doing City Council work
— 25 to 30 hours a week. I think it’s reasonable that
we be paid adequate compensation for the time we spend,” said
Council member Jean Carlberg (D-3rd Ward).
“I’m a retired teacher, so I don’t face job
constraints, but most of the City Council members do,” she
Heiftje also pointed out that current wages may be prohibitively
low for much of the community.
“Without higher pay for Council work, it means that people
of modest means can’t afford to be on City Council,” he
said. “People make great sacrifices to be on city
But Kim Groome (D-Ward 1), who voted against the increase, said
she doesn’t feel the pay hike would affect people who might
consider running for city council.
“You’re going to have to have a fairly well paying
job to make up for a relatively low paying City Council job
(whether the increase is approved or not),” she said.
“I’m not sure this sort of jump would actually
accomplish that end.”
Carlberg said, regardless of salary, the Council demands a great
deal from one’s personal life.
“Most of our meetings are at night … so you give up
a lot of family time,” she said. She added that she feels the
idea that the salary increase impinges the budget is ridiculous,
and that the mayor’s efforts warrant higher pay.
“He spends a tremendous amount of time at his job and its
virtually impossible for him to do another job,” she said.
“He’s still not being adequately
Groome, a full-time mom and research associate at the
University, added that she felt the issue had not been adequately
brought to the public.
“I wanted to give a chance for more public input,”
she said. Groome added, however, that in spite of her vote, she
still believes that the Council members’ salaries are
“For the amount of work they do, I refer to it as a
‘stipend’,” she said.