By Carla Branch

Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks proposed appointing a study committee to review the mayor’s and members of City Council compensation. Council approved the proposal at Tuesday night’s legislative meeting by a vote of 6-1.

 “Council salaries have not been increased since 2003 and I think we should study the matter,” Jinks told Council. “When we adjusted the salaries in 2003, they were comparable to those of the Boards of Supervisors in Arlington and Fairfax Counties. That is no longer the case.”

The Mayor of Alexandria currently earns $30, 500 per year and the members of council earn $27,500 per year.  They are part-time legislators. Here is their salary history for the past 40 years:

  • July 1, 1982 to June 30, 1988: Mayor = $12,500, Council Member = $12,500
  • July 1, 1988 to June 30, 2003: Mayor = $25,000, Council Member = $20,000
  • July 1, 2003 to current: Mayor = $30,500, Council Member = $27,500

As part of the FY2018 Budget, the Arlington County Board approved a 3.5% increase in County Board salaries. The Chair’s salary will increase from $56,629 to $59,610, and Member salaries will increase from $51,480 to $53,282. Like the Alexandria City Council, Board membership is part-time.

In Loudon County, the salaries currently are $50,000 for the chair, $45,320 for the vice chair and $41,200 for the other supervisors. In 2020, they will increase to $81,100 for the chair, $73,363 for the vice chair and $66,826 for the other supervisors. The salaries will then increase by 2% each year of the next board's term. Also, the chair is now a full-time job while other Board members will remain part-time legislators.

Members of the Prince William County Board make an average of $45,000 per year and are part-time legislators. They considered a proposal to increase Board salaries in 2015 but missed the deadline for doing so. The next time that they can consider such a proposal will be in 2019 to take effect with the new Board in 2020.

Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors are fulltime legislators. They earn $95,000 per year.

Councilman Paul Smedberg voted against Jinks’ proposal to study Council compensation. “Gien our fiscal constraints and the fact that we are asking department heads to cut their budgets, now is not the time to consider giving ourselves a raise,” Smedberg said. “We decided not to consider this matter in 2015 and things have not changed such that we should consider it now. 

“All of us presumably run because we are interested in public service not because we want to get rich. We are all aware that this is a part-time job even though we work many hours serving on various regional committees and performing out legislative duties,” Smedberg said.

Several members of Council spoke in favor of raising salaries. “Many people who would consider running for Council don’t do so because they can’t afford it,” said Councilman John Chapman.

Mayor Allison Silberberg has suggested that the job of mayor should be fulltime. That, however, would require a charter change as Alexandria currently operates under a weak mayor strong manager form of government.

Council’s vote now gives Jinks the go-ahead to appoint a five-member study committee: four members with government management experience and one former Council member. The committee will study the compensation issue and report to Council in the spring. Council must vote on the matter prior to summer recess for any increase to become effective when the new Council is sworn in in January, 2019.