Council President Maggie Lewis and others are expected to bring the proposal forward at tonight's meeting of the City-County Council. I caution them on how to proceed.
I am against this measure. Indianapolis has tons of other issues to deal with before we even begin to consider raising the pay of its Mayor and City-County Council. With murders, shootings, robberies, and crime dotting our headlines and streets and sidewalks crumbling, the optics of a pay raise just do not look right at this time.
Not one person that will be sworn in on January 1 was lured by the salary of the job. I knew that the Council made $12,500 when I decided to run, but the promise of the extra cash wouldn't have done a diddly darn thing to change my decision.
To be honest, I have less of a problem with the Council raising its pay. City-County Councillors meet once or twice a month, but they meet over the calendar year. In addition to probably working a job (a handful of Councillors are retired, I know), Councillors go to committee meetings and, if they're worth a vote, do work within their district almost constantly by answering constituent complaints and concerns, attending community functions, and supporting local causes. Jumping from $12,500 to $16,000 is really justifiable. I think the timing is still off and the message isn't quite right. I think proposing a Council pay raise should be done over time and should be justified by showing exactly what a hard-working member does.
The raise for the Mayor is something completely different.
Is the Mayor of Indianapolis is a horribly underpaid job? Yes. There are Mayors around Indiana that make more than the Mayor of Indianapolis. The money paid does not necessarily match the work expected. Still, Joe Hogsett knew that when he decided to run for the office. It's not like this is a big secret. I guarantee he would have still run for Mayor no matter what the salary was because when you decide to enter public service, you do it to serve and not to get paid what you're worth.
Being Mayor of Indianapolis has its perks, but it's a tough, stressful job that requires nearly 100 percent of your waking hours. Knowing Joe, it will consume what he does for at least the next four years. He will throw himself into the work and earn every penny. That's why even he has to know this is a bad idea.
Looking at this from the other side of the shore, is there really a good time to raise the Council and the Mayor's pay? Probably not. I still think you have to be mindful of timing and avoid the idea and optics that this is being rammed through a lame duck Council and past a lame duck Mayor.
Don't know where this one is going, but I hope the Council decides to put off this proposal until the timing is better and the pay raises can be better justified to the public. If I were Mayor Ballard, I'd veto this one if it passes the full Council.