CRC Recommends Pay Raise for Council, Mayor

Dallas City Hall | Image by Ron Smithson/Getty Images

For the second time in 10 years, the Charter Review Commission is recommending raising salaries for Dallas City Council members and the mayor, as the commissioners discussed at Tuesday’s Charter Review meeting.

Several proposed amendments called for raising council members’ salaries to between $100,000 and $125,000 and the mayor’s salary to between $100,000 and $140,000. Ultimately, commissioners approved Commissioner Stuart Campbell’s (District 7) proposal that would raise council pay to $125,000 and the mayor’s salary to $140,000 in taxpayer money.

“With the current salary of $60k, only independently wealthy folks are able to run for office,” Campbell wrote in the amendment. “For a more diverse and representative council, salary should be significantly raised (1) to allow non-rich folks the ability to serve their city and (2) so the salary is commensurate with the job duties of city councilpersons. The reason for separating mayor and council salaries is because that’s how it has been historically, and the mayor does have some — though limited — added responsibilities.”

“I’m inclined to support this,” Commissioner Miguel Solis (District 12) said during a meeting on Tuesday. “If done well, the mayor’s role and responsibilities, I think, can exceed what we would expect from a single city council member — again, if done well. But differentiating, I think, makes a little more sense to me. I’ll be supporting this because I think that we should try to professionalize the city council as much as we can.”

Former City Council Member Philip Kingston offered a nearly identical amendment that would have also raised council pay to $125,000. While it did not include an increase for the mayor, he told commissioners he intended to include raising the salary for that position to $140,000 as well.

“One question I’ve been asked many times is where I came up with [$125,000], and the answer is it’s an educated guess,” Kingston said. “It is a number that is designed to get good candidates. When we raised it to [$60,000] in 2014, the pool of candidates improved substantially, and I think even people who were elected before 2014 would admit that.

“I think … a city that is governed exclusively by people who are wealthy, retired, or in other ways able to support themselves in a different way … is probably not reflecting the will of the people very well.”

Commissioner Isaac Steen (District 4) asked Kingston to reveal his profession.

“My profession is lawyer, Mr. Steen,” Kingston replied. “Many of us on council have held law degrees, and that’s very helpful for understanding legal issues. It’s not necessarily helpful for understanding people’s kitchen table issues.”

The Charter Review Commission is charged every 10 years with including or excluding from recommending to the Dallas City Council proposed amendments to the charter, which then must be approved by voters. During the last charter review in 2014, voters approved a measure that increased council members’ salaries from $37,500 to $60,000 and the mayor’s pay from $60,000 to $80,000, D Magazine reported.

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