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By veto-proof majority, Syracuse council approves pay raises for themselves, mayor, auditor

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
The Syracuse Common Council.

The salaries of Syracuse councilors, the mayor, council president and city auditor will likely be going up, after the council approved the pay raises on Monday. Those positions, with the exception of the mayor, also get 2% annual increases until 2023.

It has been 16 years since councilors had a salary increase. They will go from $21,000 to $30,000 a year. Councilor-at-Large Tim Rudd said they should be paid at least a living wage for a job some councilors work at full time.

“So, we’re talking about $15 an hour here in practice," Rudd said. "I don’t think there’s anyone who thinks that’s excessive. I think people want responsiveness in local government.”

Two councilors voted against the pay raises including Councilor Joe Carni.

“I just can’t justify giving ourselves and other elected officials raises when we’re struggling to balance the budget,” Carni said.

Six councilors voted for the raises, making it a veto-proof majority. Mayor Ben Walsh has not said if he would sign or veto the legislation. The mayor’s salary would go from $115,000 to $130,000 a year by 2022. Last week, Walsh said the pay raises, specifically for the mayor, are not his priority, but he said the council does deserve it.

“They work very hard,” Walsh said. “I see them at many of the same meetings that I am. I get paid a full-time salary and they don’t. So, I understand it.”

Walsh could also do nothing and allow the increases to go into law. A local law hearing will be held sometime this month, which could elicit more feedback from the public.  

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.