A city-appointed task force is proposing raises of about $10,000 next year for Alexandria’s part-time mayor and council members. The salary increase would be the first for city elected officials in 15 years, but their pay would remain substantially lower than that in neighboring counties.
The committee, which will present their report to the all-Democratic council Tuesday night, recommended boosting the mayor’s salary from $30,500 to $41,600, and the six council members’ salaries from $27,500 to $$37,500, and reviewing the pay structure every three years.
Raises would take effect in January, after a new council is elected and sworn in.
“The committee unanimously agreed that the compensation should be increased,” the task force appointed by city manager Mark Jinks said in a May 1 memo to the council. One member argued “the increase should have been greater.”
Pay raises can be controversial for politicians, even though Virginia state law prohibits a sitting council from raising its own pay. The last time the Alexandria council considered a salary increase was in December 2015; the proposal was pulled at the last minute. Lawmakers in Prince George’s County, Md., recently rejected a proposed $10,000 pay raise, which was pitched as a way to compensate for losing car allowances and would have brought their salaries in line with neighboring Montgomery County.
It’s difficult to compare Alexandria to other cities and counties because of different population sizes and whether local elected officials are expected to work in those jobs full or part-time.
The Alexandria positions are officially part-time, but most officials say they put in at least 40 hours a week between meetings, constituent work, studying reports and appearances at events. Five of the six current council members also hold full-time jobs; one is retired. Mayor Allison Silberberg (D), a writer, says she works full-time at being mayor.
The Alexandria mayor and city council members are also eligible for the city’s supplemental retirement plan, group life insurance and health insurance programs.
Under state law, the council must take action on the proposed salary increase by July 6, even though the composition of the next city government will likely be decided in the June 12 Democratic primary.
Falls Church and Fairfax City — which have far smaller populations than Alexandria — also consider their elected boards to be part-time and pay their council members $9,200 and $12,000, respectively.
Arlington County, which has 226,092 residents — compared with 151,473 in Alexandria — pays board members $53,282 for part-time work.
Of the jurisdictions that consider elected positions fulltime, Fairfax County (population 1.1 million) pays members of the board of supervisors $95,000 and its chair $100,000. Loudoun County (pop. 362,435) pays board members $41,200 and its chair $50,000. Prince William County (pop. 443,630) pays board members $43,422 and the chair $49,452.
In Maryland, Prince George’s County (pop. 897,693) pays county council members $120,347 and the chair $126,364, while Montgomery County (pop. 1 million) pays county council members $136,258 and the council president $149,883.
Loudoun County supervisors voted last summer to increase salaries for members of the 2020 board of supervisors to $70,916. The chair of the board would be paid $86,064.