Depending on how one looks at City Council President Mary Pat Clarke's proposal to increase the 18 council members' salaries from $29,000 to $36,065, it is a 24 percent hike or effectively an annual 6 percent increase over the next council's four-year term. Either way, it is exorbitant in a financially troubled city that is asking its municipal employees to forego any pay rise at all.
How much should a council member be paid for what basically is a part-time job?
We simply do not know -- and neither does anyone else. Take Indianapolis, for example. With approximately the same population as Baltimore, it pays its 29 city/county council members a base salary of $9,465 (12 percent of the mayor's salary) plus $107 for each of the year's 21 scheduled council meetings. If council members do their work and attend committee members, they can also earn an extra $59 for up to 40 meetings.
This pay structure was created 20 years ago. Nobody in Indianapolis readily seems to remember why. Other cities have equally peculiar systems.