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Walsh doesn’t take stand on council pay-raise vote

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh greeted a spectator at Sunday’s Columbus Day Parade. He wouldn’t say Sunday whether he thought city councilors should vote on a pay-raise proposal.Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Mayor Martin J. Walsh declined to say Sunday whether he thought Boston city councilors should vote on a proposal to raise their own pay 14 percent rather than let the measure become law next month without council action.

After a year of debate, disagreement, and study over the pay raise, Walsh seemed ready to leave the prickly political issue to the council.

“The ball, it’s in their court now,” Walsh said of the city council members. “We’re waiting for a response for what the council is going to do there. Technically they don’t have to take a vote, but that is something you should ask the council.”

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Councilors can do nothing on the pay hike proposal and still get the raise, avoiding the often politically unpopular step of voting themselves more taxpayer money.

The proposal to increase the pay of city councilors from $87,500 a year to $99,500 is set to become law early next month without a vote of the council because of a rarely used provision of the city charter.

Back in September, Walsh submitted a proposal to bump council salaries to $99,500. He called that figure a compromise after vetoing a larger increase to $107,500, which had the backing of the council.

The mayor’s proposal was referred to a council committee, which has not advanced it to a vote. The city charter states that mayoral proposals become law in 60 days if the council fails to act on them.

The 60-day time limit will expire early next month, setting the pay raise into law without action from the council. It would take effect in January.

Walsh said he has not spoken to councilors about the pay raise “in the last week or so.”

Asked whether the council should take a vote rather than let the raise take effect automatically, the mayor demurred. “You’ll have to ask them that question,” Walsh said in a brief interview outside City Hall Plaza before the start of the Boston Columbus Day Parade.

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The debate on pay dates back a year, when City Council President Bill Linehan proposed increasing the annual councilor salary to $112,500. He argued that councilors’ pay had not risen since 2006 while other city workers have received increases.

After some public backlash, the council eventually voted 9-4 to increase council salaries to $107,500 — a $20,000 annual raise.

Walsh vetoed the raise, saying it was too big, and submitted the pending proposal to set council pay at $99,500.


Andrew Ryan of the Globe staff contributed. Mark Arsenault can be reached at marsenault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark.