Fort Worth’s mayor and city council members on Tuesday asked voters for a pay raise that would more than triple their salaries and make them among the highest-paid city elected officials in Texas.
"I think we're worth it, frankly, but you get to decide that as voters,” Mayor Mattie Parker said.
Fort Worth currently pays the mayor $29,000 a year and council members $25,000.
If voters approve at an election in May, the pay would jump to nearly $100,000 for the mayor and more than $76,000 for council members.
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It would be calculated at 50% of what city department heads and assistant department heads make.
City leaders argue that their jobs in the nation's 12th largest city are a huge time commitment.
"This is far more than a full-time job,” council member Elizabeth Beck said.
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"Sometimes I wake up at 8 o'clock in the morning and don't leave here until 9 or 10 o'clock at night and that's representing the city of Fort Worth,” Councilman Chris Nettles added.
And, they say, the workload discourages people with regular full-time jobs from serving, leaving the positions to those who are independently wealthy or the few who have very flexible jobs.
"So for me, it's less about a pay raise and it's more about creating opportunities, opportunities for working folks who are just as passionate about the city of Fort Worth,” Councilman Jared Williams said.
A couple of residents spoke out against the raise and the way it's calculated.
"If you're going to index it to the pay raises of the city staff, you should also index it … to job performance,” resident Thomas Torlincasi said. “Some of you have only been here eight months."
But city leaders said their job performance is already linked to running for election every two years.
In an interview, Parker pushed for the raise.
"I absolutely think our council, right now, and frankly the council and mayors before me, absolutely deserve to make a living wage at the very least to represent their city. But I also know politically this is a really tough thing to do," Parker said.
Mayor and council pay varies widely by city.
Dallas pays its mayor $80,000 per year and council members $60,000 per year.
Arlington, by comparison, pays its mayor just $250 per month and council members $200 per month.