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Syracuse council overrides Walsh veto of pay raises

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
The Syracuse Common Council.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh issued his first veto on Monday, rejecting legislation that gives the mayor, councilors and city auditor pay raises. But the council had the final say and over-rode his veto. 

Walsh said he has been consistent with his message that the pay raises are not a priority of his administration.

“We have limited resources, we need to make sure that we’re investing them in a way that aligns with our priorities,” Walsh said.

Walsh stated that he thinks the pay raises for the different positions, should have been voted on separately, and the annual 2% pay increase over three years for councilors and the auditor, should be addressed during the budget process. The administration is going to put together a compensation study of the salaries of elected officials and city employees, next year.

Walsh said the council also did not accept his request to exclude the position of the mayor from the pay raises. That’s something Councilor-at-Large Khalid Bey said he was fine with, but the majority on the council decided to keep it in. Bey, who voted for the raises, said the demands of being a councilor are high.

“I think for the future, especially if you’re trying to get younger people in here, it’s going to have to be enough for them to take care of themselves," Bey said. "I think $30,000 does that. Our medium income here is $33,000. We voted for a living wage, but don’t get paid one.”

Councilors will go from $21,000 to $30,000 a year, at the start of 2020. The mayor’s salary will go from $115,000 to $130,000 a year, starting with the mayor’s next term in 2022.

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.