Foundation of consistent, stable City government starts with ''yes'' vote for Charter Amendment 2

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April 21, 2015
The North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce endorses the proposed Charter amendment to pay the Mayor and City Councilmembers a living wage. On behalf of our 1,200 business members, who employ more than 160,000 professionals in the San Antonio area, we urge everyone to support sensible pay and vote “yes” on Charter Amendment 2 on May 9.
It is essential to the policy-making process to have consistency and stability in our City government. Over the past two years, we have seen an unprecedented number of appointments and special elections for City Council. Only three of 11 of our current City Council members have held their position for more than two years. While the new Councilmembers have dealt capably with complex and contentious issues, our community is best served by an experienced City Council. Council pay is vital for building continuity in City government and will allow Councilmembers to devote the full-time hours required to serve the citizens of San Antonio.
San Antonio compares disappointingly with other major cities in Texas when it comes to compensating its elected officials. Austin City Councilmembers earn $69,885 per year. The Austin Mayor earns $81,344 per year. Dallas City Councilmembers earn $60,000 per year. The Dallas Mayor earns $80,000 per year. Houston City Councilmembers earn $62,408 per year. The Houston Mayor earns $234,031.
The San Antonio Mayor and City Councilmembers deal with all the same types of issues that Austin, Dallas and Houston municipalities face, but our Councilmembers and Mayor do the work basically for no pay. Under the current City Charter provision on City Council compensation, approved in 1951, Councilmembers are paid $20 for every City Council meeting they attend, with a cap of $1,040 per year, and the Mayor is paid an additional stipend of $3,000.
Councilmembers are not paid for attending committee meetings, neighborhood association meetings or working with constituents to resolve issues in their districts, but they do the work regardless – often at the expense of their profession and financial position. Council pay scale was established when service was a part-time activity that could more easily be balanced with a career and family life. As San Antonio has grown into a major city, the demands on elected officials’ time have increased exponentially. The City Charter should be amended to align with the modern demands of the nation’s seventh largest city.
If Charter Amendment 2 passes, Councilmembers would receive a salary equal to the median income in San Antonio, which is $45,722 per year, and the Mayor would receive $61,725 per year. The funds for these salaries would come out of the City Council budget, and a Councilmember could elect not to accept the salary.
A stable and consistent City Council that can dedicate their full attention to addressing the issues that impact our community is vital to economic growth and quality of life in our community. Approval of a living wage for our City Council is an important step in the right direction. Let’s act now and pass this amendment. Visit an early voting site starting Monday, April 27.