How much should elected officials make?
In Albuquerque, a volunteer civilian committee gets to decide.
The Citizens’ Independent Salary Commission has begun its biennial process to set pay for the mayor and city councilors.
The panel will consider several factors, including larger economic forces like inflation; how much similar jobs pay in other cities, including El Paso, Tucson and Fresno, California; and feedback from the elected officials and the public.
The committee is presently surveying the mayor and councilors, asking questions like how many hours per week they spend at, and preparing for, official city meetings and functions; if there are issues they want to pursue but cannot due to time or resource limitations; and whether their position’s existing salary plays a role in whether someone decides to seek the office.
The public survey asks respondents whether mayoral and councilor salaries should change and if the positions’ existing pay creates “any economic barriers to potential candidates considering running for office.” It also asks if Albuquerque would benefit if its city councilors – who, unlike the mayor, are considered part-time officials — could devote their full-time attention to their legislator duties.
The commission sets the salaries in a year leading up to the elections that decide city offices, which happen every other autumn.
In 2021 — the most recent cycle — the commission raised the mayor’s salary by 6% to $132,500 and the councilor salaries by 10% to $33,660. It was the first mayoral pay hike in six years. The council had received a 2% increase in 2019.
Salary changes do not apply to incumbents unless and until they win reelection.
The Citizens’ Independent Salary Commission has meetings set for Feb. 2 and March 2. For more information, including a link to the public survey, go to www.cabq.gov/audit/citizens-independent-salary-commission.
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