Dallas City Council members could double their salary under proposed charter amendment

Voters in Dallas may be asked if they want to give their council members a pay raise — and a significant one at that.

The Dallas City Council on Wednesday debated a recommendation to change the pay structure through a charter amendment, which would require voter approval.

Council members currently make $60,000 a year. They have not gotten a raise since 2014.

(Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The way the proposal currently stands, council members would double their salary.

Most seem to agree that's too high of a jump, but others argue a significant increase is needed due to this basically being a full-time job.

"We want to be fair. We want to be equitable," said Councilmember Carolyn King Arnold. "We want to be able to justify."

Council pay is a contentious issue emerging from a recommendation by the Charter Review Commission.

Under the proposal, councilmember salaries would jump from $60,000 to $125,000 and $145,000 for the mayor.

"The commission definitely felt like that number was an amount that anybody could make to provide for themselves in Dallas," said Jake Anderson with the Office of Government Affairs. "The public can reasonably expect the elected official is performing their duties 100% of the time."

"I also don't see the voters saying, ‘You're going to get double the money,’" said Councilmember Omar Narvaez.


Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson raises questions about ex-city manager's severance pay

Former Dallas city manager T.C. Broadnax resigned from his position on February 21. It was labeled as an "involuntary separation," triggering a clause that would require the city to pay him nearly half a million dollars.

Councilmember Kathy Stewart proposed a more moderate increase in line with the consumer price index.

"It's $78,973.78, which is more easily rounded up to $80,000," she said.

Councilman Paul Ridley opposed any raise in part due to the fact that the acting city manager has asked all department heads to cut their budgets by 6%. The city is facing a $38 million budget shortfall.

"I will not be able to support this amendment," he said. "I think it comes at a bad time."

Other councilmembers could not justify a significant raise while they also struggle to keep the pension funded, noting that retired Dallas police and firefighters have not seen a cost-of-living adjustment in eight years.

"We are public servants," said Councilman Tennell Adkins. "You do it because you like it. You do it because you want to do it."

Still, most councilmembers who weighed in pointed out that the elected position is essentially a full-time job. 

"I am not afraid to say we deserve more pay," said Councilman Adam Bazaldua.

The committee tabled the discussion during Wednesday’s meeting. The full council will vote on the final draft at their June 26 meeting.

Voters in November will have the final say on any proposed charter amendments.