INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- As a city-county councilor, Jeff Miller estimates he works up to 30 hours per week doing the peoples’ business, and while the Republican says its not about the money, some extra cash would be nice.
“I mean, it is a lot of money that our city is managing, that our council is managing, and we have a mayor making under $100,000, and we have a council making just over eleven it really is a bizarre situation to me.”
That “bizarre situation” has 25 councilors, down from 29 a year ago, making what amounts to eight-figure decisions while working for a smaller base salary than counterparts in many smaller Indiana and regional cities.
Councilors are paid a base salary of $11,400 per year, plus about $5,000 annually to attend meetings as well as qualifying for health and pension benefits.
Miller says that relatively low salary for a part-time legislative job keeps other moderate wage earners from seeking office.
“We are creating a class on the council where a certain segment of our economy cannot run for council.”
Outgoing Republican councilman Jack Sandlin agrees with Miller that council members shouldn’t expect to get rich on their public salary, but there are other city employees who deserve raises even more.
“We have employees in the city county government that haven’t had a pay raise for six years or more, and for the council in this tough economic time to say that they want to double their pay, it just doesn’t make any sense.”
City firefighters and police were recently given 3% raises.
A year ago, outgoing Mayor Greg Ballard vetoed a council attempt to give itself $5,000 raises and opposed a plan to increase the next mayor’s salary to $125,000.
Current Mayor Joe Hogsett also opposed that pay increase and, should the council pass this ordinance proposal, would be faced with vetoing an initiative forwarded by fellow democrats.
Councilors in Carmel, Fishers and Noblesville make more than those in Indianapolis while living in cities with a fraction of the population. Louisville pays its councilors an annual salary of $35,000 while its population is 100,000 less than Indianapolis.