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How much more will city councilors earn than those they represent?

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson (right) at a recent hearing.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/Globe staff

Before voting to give himself a $20,000 raise, City Councilor Tito Jackson lamented his current salary of $87,500 and said public service should not be a “subscription to poverty.” City Councilor Charles Yancey said he was amazed his wife had not divorced him because he was paid so little.

The proposed pay hike would push Jackson and Yancey into one of the highest income brackets in their districts. With a salary of $107,500, they would each earn more than 8 out of 10 of the households in their districts, which consist largely of Roxbury and Mattapan.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh has threatened to veto the raise; he has until mid-October to do so. If he doesn’t veto the measure, the raises begin in January 2016.


City council members will individually earn more than 68 percent of the households they represent, if the pay raise they approved for themselves on September 8 goes through.

In some neighborhoods the divide is even greater, like in Jackson and Yancey’s.

About 32 percent of households in Boston have a shared annual income of more than $100,000, according to census figures. City councilmembers voted last week to join this group by increasing their pay $20,000. The combined household income for most councillors are unknown as only Michael Flaherty recently filed a financial disclosure statement. Boston’s city council is unique in that members can have a second job while serving.

“In my mind, public service shouldn’t be a subscription to poverty,” said Councilor Tito Jackson before the vote. “I think it’s absolutely important that people who do this work are justly compensated.”

It should be noted that the poverty threshold for a family of four is about $24,000. Jackson represents District 7 in Boston, where 84 percent of households make less than $100,000. In Boston’s District 4, which is represented by Yancey, 81 percent of households make less than $100,000, as well. Neither counsilors returned phone calls.


Councilors Matt O’Malley and Josh Zakim were the only non-At-Large representatives who voted against the raise. The districts the pair represent have the highest percentage of households making more than $100,000 with District 6 at 48 percent and District 8 at 53 percent.

O’Malley and Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who also voted against the raise, suggested council salary should rise and fall with Boston’s median income.

According to the census, the median family income for the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metro area was $91,537 in 2013. In 2006, the last time the council got a raise, the median family income was higher at $92,703 after adjusting for inflation.

Councilor Representing Elected Households with income less than $100k in District Voted for raise
Salvatore LaMattina District 1 2006 68.46% Yes
Bill Linehan District 2 2007 56.90% Yes
Frank Baker District 3 2011 77.55% Yes
Charles C. Yancey District 4 1983 81.39% Yes
Timothy McCarthy District 5 2013 69.59% Yes
Matt O'Malley District 6 2010 51.88% No
Tito Jackson District 7 2011 84.29% Yes
Josh Zakim District 8 2013 47.34% No
Mark Ciommo District 9 2007 72.64% Yes
Michael Flaherty At-Large 2013 68.25% Yes
Stephen Murphy At-Large 1997 68.25% Yes
Ayanna Pressley At-Large 2009 68.25% No
Michelle Wu At-Large 2013 68.25% No

Source: City of Boston / U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2008-2012

Andrew Ba Tran can be reached at andrew.tran@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @abtran.