Feb 28, 2023 - News

Denver City Council and mayor propose giving themselves 9% raise

Denver elected officials' proposed salary increases
Data: Denver’s Office of Human Resources; Table: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Denver's next mayor could earn a hefty paycheck.

Driving the news: A proposal providing 9% raises for the mayor and other elected positions including the auditor and clerk and recorder is scheduled for discussion Tuesday by Denver City Council.

By the numbers: The raises would mean a $17,562 pay bump for the mayor, increasing the position's salary from $188,429 to $205,991 — or $70,000 more than what the Colorado governor is paid.

  • The council president would make $123,846, up $10,558, while council members would get $110,596, up $9,429.
  • The auditor, and the clerk and recorder, would make $178,152, an increase of $15,188.
  • If approved, Denver's next mayor would make more than double the area median income for a single person in the city ($82,100).

Why it matters: The proposed salary increases come as inflation and cost of living continue to dominate concerns for people living in the state and region.

The intrigue: There are eight incumbent council members seeking re-election in April, including three running unopposed who would be deciding whether to give themselves a raise.

What they're saying: "I think we are well compensated at the level we are now," Denver City Councilmember Kevin Flynn, who plans on voting no on the proposal, tells Axios Denver.

  • Flynn said the current salaries have not stopped people from wanting to run for office; there are currently 40 people vying for 13 seats on city council and 17 people running for mayor.

Between the lines: The council is required by city law to consider salaries every four years, city council spokesperson Robert Austin tells Axios Denver.

  • The consumer price index or the cumulative increase in the average salary of city employees — whichever is less — is used to determine potential raises, according to city documents.
  • From 2019 to 2022 that salary increase for city employees was 9.32%. The CPI for Denver-Boulder-Greeley was 15.42%.

Flashback: Denver City Council members voted in February 2019 to give themselves raises, though the decision wasn't unanimous, with Flynn joining three other council members in opposition.

Of note: The Denver school board is proposing paying new members up to $3,000 a month, up from $750 a month.

What's next: If approved, the raises would take effect July 17.

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