Home / Opinion / Putting the New Bedford City Council’s 44% Pay Raise in Perspective

Putting the New Bedford City Council’s 44% Pay Raise in Perspective




Michael Silvia
by Michael Silvia

On March 13th, Councilors Rebeiro and Carney posted a motion to the city council to repeal the 44% pay raise that the City Council voted for two years earlier. It caused some major friction in the City Council chambers as the other nine city councilors verbally beat up the two newly elected councilors.

To put the pay raise in perspective it was a bump to from $14,600 to $21,000 or a $6,400 annual increase. That translates into $533.33 per month or $133 a week. It’s politically advantageous to say 44% compared to a $6,400 annual increase.

Apparently, only the city council can give themselves a pay raise and probably the reason they haven’t had a pay raise since 1995. Can voting yourself a pay raise every be popular in politics? That’s 17 years without a pay raise.  I’m not a mathematician or an accountant, but let’s examine the pay raise numbers using a compounded annual growth calculator. The growth from $14,600 to $21,000 over 17 years comes out to a compounded annual growth of 2.58%. You can see my work here.

Is it unreasonable to give a city councilor a 2.58% annual pay raise? I did a quick Google search and grabbed the first article that looked valid. According to the article: “From 2000 to 2008, the average pay increase was between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent. Fast forward to the years from 2009 to 2011, and the median pay increase dropped to hover around 3 percent.” The article goes on to say 1.9% – 3.5% is the most recent going rate.

Take away the political rhetoric of the 44% number and look at the pay raise without emotion and the raise seems more than fair. You can argue that the pay raise was bad timing, but you can’t argue that the raise was high when looking at it on an annual basis compared to the private sector.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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  1. your math is flawed in one MAJOR way… the councilors who suggested the raise haven’t been there for 17 years…

    so they actually got that 44% raise all at once… must be nice

    • Jeff, what does that matter? If you enter the job market you get paid based on current rates. In that same year the mayor’s salary went from $98,735.79 to $109,826.05. Should he have reverted back to old pay because he was only in office for a year? You’re paid based on the position not longevity. For example, the City Council President gets paid more than the rest of the councilors and is rarely the most senior councilor.

  2. Your computations may have some validity for many positions, part or full time. This type of “employement’ is dependent on elections and can have turn-over every two years. Many businesses have postions that they assign a certain value to and cap that position so that personnel costs do not get out of hand. There are various strategies to use. In this case, what the council is saying is they have the most value of any council in the Commonwealth as they are now paid higher than any except the full time positions in Boston. There should have been a comparative study with other communities…is New Bedford the “best” managed city? Are New Bedford councillors the best at what they do? New Bedford ranks dead last in the Commonwealth as the best city to live in…New Bedford has the State’s highest unemployment rate….the councillors have a diffiuclt time at best, understanding that compromise is what gets things done and that the chief executive needs time to impliment the vision he or she was elected to deliver and can only to do this with an effective oversight but cooperative council….many questions that make this council not the number one council in the State yet they are the highest paid!

  3. This city gets the baffoons in the city council they deserve. I was surprised by the arrogance of gomes, alves, oliveira, coelho and the clown from ward five. Our incompetent electorate voted them in after they padded their wallets so why not be arrogant about the raise? Maybe the crook alves needs to go sell another house with an oil tank buried underneath and mrs tv show host needed a raise to go take classes on how to present a tv show. New bedford voters are really something putting these incompetents into office.

  4. More homework needed, back when George Rogers was on the City Council they voted that their pay would reflect any increase to the police union contract so the councilors would not have to vote themselves an increase.

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