BOSTON (AP) — Mayor Martin Walsh vetoed a $20,000 pay raise for Boston city councilors Friday, saying he wanted an independent analysis of how much the elected body should be paid.
The council voted 9-4 on Oct. 8 to raise its annual pay from $87,500 to $107,500, a nearly 23 percent increase, effective January 2016. It would have been the first salary hike for councilors since 2006.
“The City Council is a vital partner in city government and its members deserve some upward salary adjustment,” Walsh wrote in a letter to the council. “However, more analysis is needed for such adjustment.”
The mayor said he planned to appoint five members to a compensation advisory board and will ask the panel to make salary recommendations for city councilors and other appointed city officials within 90 days.
The board had been dormant for several years before issuing a report in 2013, but it did not offer guidance on compensation for councilors, Walsh wrote.
The mayor’s top legal adviser, Eugene O’Flaherty, has said he does not believe the council has the authority to override a veto of the pay raises, though some councilors have disputed that analysis.
The council’s president, Bill Linehan, initially sought a 25 percent pay hike, effective immediately. Councilor Stephen Murphy later proposed lowering the pay raise by $5,000, blaming local news outlets for stirring up controversy around the plan.
Councilors moved to delay the raises until 2016, when a new 13-member council would take office, after city lawyers pointed to a Massachusetts ethics law prohibiting government officials from voting on matters in which they or their families have a direct financial interest.
Messages left Friday with Linehan and Murphy were not immediately returned.
If the new salaries were to take effect, Boston councilors would earn more than their counterparts in several other U.S. cities with comparable or even larger populations.
Boston has a population of about 645,000.