Pittsburgh City Council members adjusted the amount of their approved salary increase at a special meeting Saturday because the original amount conflicted with the city’s bylaws charter, Councilman Anthony Coghill said.
Coghill said the original proposal to raise council members’ salaries from $72,000 to $83,000 — a jump of more than 15% — did not comply with the city’s bylaw charter. The council members, taking advice from their lawyer and the city attorney, therefore reduced their pay increase at a special meeting on Saturday.
Council members ultimately voted to give themselves a 6.3% salary increase, bringing their annual salary to $76,544, about $4,500 more than last year.
“The way (the home rule charter) reads is that we must not get a pay raise greater than the city’s average pay raise,” Coghill said. “That’s how we arrived at that number.”
The pay increase for council members, Coghill said, is “a bit lower” than the average pay increase for city employees.
The city council deliberated on the final number in an executive session that was not open to the public on Saturday.
The initial salary increase – which would have raised council member salaries to $83,000 – was incorporated into the 2022 budget by former Mayor Bill Peduto. Coghill said he didn’t know who was responsible for making sure the pay raise was in line with the city’s charter.
Saturday marked the last day the budget was open to such changes, Coghill said, meaning the board couldn’t just wait for its next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday to make the adjustment.
The municipal council does not often meet on Saturdays. Last year they held two weekend meetings. The first was one of two public hearings to discuss the U.S. bailout, and the second was one of many public hearings on the potential annexation of Wilkinsburg.
Council members said the process of instituting a salary increase was transparent, as the public had an opportunity to view and comment on the budget before it was passed. Board chair Theresa Kail-Smith previously said board members had never heard of the proposed pay rise.
Coghill and other board members said that without a salary increase, the position may not pay enough to attract talented people to run for office. Councilwoman Deb Gross said about half of city employees earn more than council members, according to 2020 data.
Kail-Smith, who called Saturday’s meeting, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the adjusted salary increase.