The Indianapolis City-County Council Rules and Public Policy committee adopted a proposal that would double council members' annual salary Tuesday.
The proposal was introduced Monday and generated some controversy. It was added to that night’s meeting agenda less than four hours before start time and with less than two months left in current councilors’ terms.
Minority Leader Mike McQuillen and District 5’s Jeff Coats voted against the proposal Tuesday. Prior to the vote Coats explained his decision, saying it’s unfair to taxpayers.
“This is not our money,” Coats says. “And not everybody gets to vote themselves the opportunity to double their salary. I’m sure there are plenty of people in my district that wish they could do that.”
The current annual salary of a council member is just more than $11,000 and has not increased in 17 years. Some say a pay raise is necessary because it is a full time job.
District 12’s Blake Johnson says the current pay requires financial stability outside of a council seat and prohibits many people from running.
“I aspire for our city and for our future of the council to truly represent the perspectives and experiences of the entire community,” Blake says. “And I think that requires we reduce barriers for people, for all professions and backgrounds who want to run and serve, not just ones who have the resources to step forward and offer their time.”
Mayor Joe Hogsett says he will veto the proposal, citing the substance and timing. He has previously said he is against raising his own salary. Council members are currently paid 12 percent of the mayor’s salary. The new proposal would set the wage to 16 percent of the base pay of a Marion County Superior Court Judge.
Republicans have criticized the proposal, saying Democrats are attempting to sneakily raise their own pay. In the new term, Democrats will hold a 20-5 supermajority of the council. If Hogsett does issue a veto, Democrats could overturn it.
The proposal now moves to the full council. The next full council meeting is Dec. 9.