Austin City Council members consider raising own salaries by 40%

While city workers are asking for a higher minimum wage, Austin City Council members are considering raising their own salaries. This comes as they work on the city's operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

If approved, it could cost taxpayers an additional $350,000 a year.

Austin city workers are begging for an increased hourly wage of $20.

"We appreciate the 18, but it just doesn't get them there," AFSCME business manager Carol Guthrie said at the city council meeting Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, the city council is considering pay raises for themselves. The last pay increase for council members was in 2006, but each year they receive cost-of-living increases. If the raise is approved, city council members will each make $116,688.00 annually. That's about a 40% raise.


"When they ran for these offices, they knew what the pay was, what knew what the hours were, they know what's required, they know they're allowed to get outside incomes, so they're giving themselves a benefit that no taxpayer is getting," Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak said.

A recent poll by Austin Monitor said 57% of residents surveyed think Austin is headed in the wrong direction with the city's growth, governance, and public safety. The city is working with a 17% vacancy rate.

"We are experiencing vacancies like we are in other parts of the department and many times upon exit surveys and asking why, it is compensation," Austin Chief of Police Joseph Chacon said.

"In a city that has cut drastically the police force and continues to cut police which is something that we need because crime has increased dramatically in the last two years since they've cut the police force, I think raising their wages 40% is ridiculous," an Austin resident who wanted to remain anonymous said.

The co-founder of Save Austin Now said the money that may go to council salaries should be spent elsewhere.

"They consistently say they don't have money for adequate city services, for improving our parks, for hiring enough police to serve this city, hiring more EMS, but they sure have enough to pay themselves," Mackowiak said.

The topic of council member salary increases didn't come up during the council meeting Wednesday night. FOX 7 Austin has reached out to members to hear their thoughts and is waiting for responses.

The budget meeting will continue Thursday. If the budget is approved, it will go into effect on October 1.