Now is Time for Council Pay

Ever since joining the City Council, I have been amazed at how much of each workday all of my council colleagues are required to spend on such a wide variety of city-related activities.

Now is Time for Council Pay

Ed. Note: The following article presents the view of District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher that the time is now for raising council pay. We have stated our opposition to the city charter amendment on this issue (Click Here), but we want you to be aware of Mr. Gallagher’s reasons for supporting it. Early Voting ends at 8 p.m. on May 5, and Election Day is Saturday, May 9. Republished from Express-News, by Mike Gallagher, January 9, 2015.

For example, the majority of my week is taken up in attending meetings and ceremonies, and visiting with constituents, as well as receiving briefings by city staff and others. I am fortunate to be a retired military officer and can usually afford to spend the time at all these events. However, most of my colleagues don’t have this luxury. They must also find the time to attempt to make a living, raise a family, save for education and retirement, in addition to paying for everyday expenses.

 I am well aware that council pay is a very sensitive subject and one many people would rather not discuss. When I bring up the topic, a lot of constituents are unaware of how serious this problem is for those elected to office. Council members currently receive $20 for specific meetings such as A-Sessions, B-Sessions, Executive Sessions, etc. Specifically, Chapter 4, Section 6 of the City Charter reads, “each member of the council shall receive as compensation for (their) services as such member the sum of twenty dollars ($20) for each of the council (meetings) attended, provided that the sum total of such compensation shall not exceed one thousand forty dollars ($1,040) per annum.” That’s it!

Some of you will immediately respond, “So what, they knew what they were getting into when they ran.” My answer is yes, they knew; however, that doesn’t mean the status-quo is right. In fact, I firmly believe that any time you underpay someone, you are asking for trouble.

To put the subject in perspective, let’s look at what other cities pay their council members. They fall into two categories: “full-time” and “parttime.” Los Angeles classifies its council members as full-time and pays them $178,789 per year. Topping the list for part-time council members’ annual pay is New York City. Believe it or not, it pays $121,725 per year. Chicago pays its part-timers $109,261, and Phoenix pays theirs $61,610. In Texas, Houston pays full-timers $55,770, while Dallas pays its part-timers $37,500. Again, contrast that with San Antonio’s $1,040 maximum.

Another significant aspect of this issue is the age of those who have agreed to serve on Council. We have three baby boomers (ages 45 to 67), seven Generation X’ers, (ages 30 to 44) and one millennial (ages 18 to 29). Most of these individuals are at a point in their lives where they should be in jobs that support and protect their families and their futures. To their credit, they have demonstrated the resolve to serve San Antonio in spite of the horrendous loss of income. It is wrong for us as a community to expect these people to spend more than 40 hours a week conducting city business and use the balance of their time trying to earn a living.

Republished from Express-News. CLICK HERE to read the original.

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4 Responses to "Now is Time for Council Pay"

  1. Telemachus  May 7, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Mr. Kelsheimer,
    That’s exactly the problem with the current arrangement. We have people getting into office because they are chasing after the perks, like free meals, tickets, trinkets and shiny beads. They can be bought with a song and dance. They’re so morally bankrupt they can’t even pay attention.

    If the job came with a living wage, there would be many more qualified individuals who would consider taking on the challenge of actually representing the people who elected them and not the special interests passing out all the bribes.

  2. hubert kelsheimer  May 7, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Excuse me!!! They knew the terms of the job when they ran for the position. What is wrong with these people! If they don’t like all the work and ceremonies etc. that they go to, then just resign.

  3. Telemachus Acragas  May 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Yes Mr. Harben, Texas municipal governments have evolved into little more than bureaucratic puppets to management. Isn’t that a shame? The Council-Manager form of local municipal government was never meant for the public servants to dictate to the people. The Manager answers to the handful of people who sit on the Council, not the people at large. Take a close look at the Texas Municipal League and you will find a powerful lobby group for municipal workers that frequently promote measures of their special interest. That group survives on public money extracted by public employees in the form of dues and fees paid by the city.

    It is high time we enable people who are not pre-occupied with side jobs and personal interests to apply the skills necessary to make informed decisions on matters of public business at city hall. They cannot possibly evaluate the impact of a vote when they are too busy feathering their own nest.

  4. Jerry Harben  May 6, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I don’t expect council members to work 40 hours a week. They are supposed to be a board of directors and leave the day to day running of the city government to the city manager and staff.

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