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St. Louis aldermen tee up a 100% pay increase for next session

Board of Alderman President Megan Green presides over a meeting
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis aldermen voted at their meeting Friday to give first-round approval to a 100% pay increase to take effect next session. Members would see their pay go from $36,000 to $72,000, but the position would also become full time.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has set itself up to double its pay in the next session.

Members on Friday voted to pay those who will take office in April $72,000 a year, up from the current $36,000 salary. Aldermen would receive an additional $5,000 in expenses.

The proposal, which will likely receive a final vote next week, includes language that says aldermen must spend at least 32 hours a week on their job. Alderwoman Laura Keys, elected to the current 21st Ward in July, said she has been working longer hours than that since she started.

“My day generally starts about 7 a.m. with my telephone ringing,” she said. “If you had to pay me for every hour I work every day, my salary would be well over $200,000 a year.”

She added that some board members depend on the salary from that position as their only income.

“There are some aldermen in this room who are struggling. And that should not be. Not if we are here to do the people’s work,” she said.

Alderman Brett Narayan, who currently represents the 24th Ward, said he agreed that public service should not be limited to those who are wealthy or retired.

“But making a 100% pay jump without taking into account the increased work that so many other city employees have had to deal with just doesn’t seem like the right thing to me,” he said.

The final vote was 17-8, with two people absent and one abstention. The roll call was:

  • Yes: Sharon Tyus, Lisa Middlebrook, Brandon Bosley, Dwinderlin Evans, James Page, Christine Ingrassia, Jack Coatar, Annie Rice, Bill Stephens, Carol Howard, Cara Spencer, Laura Keys, Norma Walker, Shameem Clark Hubbard, Pam Boyd, Michael Gras, President Megan Green
  • No: Dan Guenther, Joe Vollmer, James Lappe, Ann Schweitzer, Tom Oldenburg, Jesse Todd, Joe Vaccaro, Bret Narayan
  • Abstain: Shane Cohn
  • Absent: Tina Pihl, Marlene Davis

Eleven of the yes votes were from aldermen who are running again in the March primary.

Pot tax, charter commission go to mayor

Aldermen on Friday also voted to place an additional 3% tax on sales of recreational marijuana on the April ballot. A number of other local governments, including St. Louis County, Kirkwood, Hazelwood, Olivette and Frontenac have approved asking voters for the pot tax.

Voters are also likely to see on the ballot a measure to set up a regular review of the city’s charter. The nine-member commission would be appointed every 10 years and have a year to take public input and make recommendations for changes for the voters to consider.

Mayor Tishaura Jones still has to decide whether to sign both bills.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.