Mayor Chris Beutler and City Council member Roy Christensen today proposed that the annual salary for the office of Mayor be reviewed by the Charter Revision Commission. Any Commission recommendation to change the charter would require voter approval and would not take effect until Mayor Beutler has left office. Christensen has announced that he is not running for Mayor.
Beutler and Christensen said they support raising the Mayor's salary to better reflect the responsibilities of the office and to attract more candidates.
"I strongly believe that the salary we are paying the Mayor creates a barrier discouraging many from running," Beutler said. "Without a fair and reasonable salary that reflects the responsibility and amount of time involved, we discourage leaders who have proven themselves outside of government and politics from seeking the office of mayor. And that is a problem for our future."
"I agree with Mayor Beutler that Lincoln should set a salary for the Mayor's office that will encourage the best and brightest here in our community to serve," Christensen said. "Being the CEO of Lincoln is an important job and the pay should reflect that."
The Mayoral salary was last reviewed by an independent body in 2010. The current salary is $87,129 with an annual cost of living increase. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Human Resources Department reviewed the salaries of Mayors in four peer cities that also have "strong Mayor" forms of government: Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Madison, Wisconsin; St Paul, Minnesota; and Omaha, Nebraska. The salaries range from $104, 000 to $137,000 with a mid-point of roughly $120,000.
"The Mayor manages the City's most critical functions: keeping you safe from crime, ensuring there is clean water, providing a streets network to get people to work and school and helping create good jobs so residents can support their families," Beutler said. "If we want to have the best talent to fill the City's most important leadership position, then we have to be realistic about the salary we are paying the City's chief executive. We are standing up for this proposal because of our bi-partisan belief that a well-qualified chief executive puts Lincoln in the best position to excel in an increasingly competitive world."