The Detroit City Council gave itself a raise Tuesday, along with Mayor Mike Duggan and City Clerk Janice Winfrey.
The council voted 5-0 to approve an immediate 7% salary increase and to establish 3.5% salary raises each July for the next three years. The pay hikes were recommended by the Elected Officials Compensation Commission, which turned down a request for larger raises sought by some council members and Winfrey.
Council Members Scott Benson, Gabriela Santiago-Romero, Mary Waters and Angela Whitfield-Calloway were absent from Tuesday’s meeting and did not vote on the resolution. The council approved the resolution alongside a handful of legal settlements and did not raise any questions or concerns over the increases.
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Council members and Winfrey previously earned $89,546 while Council President Mary Sheffield earned $94,111 and Duggan earned $189,300.
Council members and Winfrey will now earn $95,814, and their salaries will increase to $106,231 by July 2025. Sheffield’s pay increased to $104,223 and will rise to $111,647 by 2025. Duggan’s salary jumped to $202,551 and will continue rising to $224,572 by 2025.
Sheffield and Winfrey also receive a $2,000 payment for serving on the Detroit Elections Commission.
Tuesday’s approval marks the first salary increase for the council and clerk since 2020. Pay recommendations are made every two years by the Elected Officials Compensation Commission, which meets in odd-numbered years. The council previously approved a series of pay raises – 3%, 2.5% and 2.5% again – between 2019 and 2020.
The salary increases approved Tuesday were far below what Winfrey and some council members had asked for.
Winfrey asked the compensation commission to increase her salary by 67% in a Feb. 6 letter. Council members Fred Durhal, Benson, Waters and Santiago-Romero also submitted a Feb. 8 memorandum seeking a salary of $115,000 for council members and $125,000 for the council president.
Council members said the rate of inflation has caused living costs to skyrocket, which negates past pay raises approved between 2019 and 2020.
Winfrey has argued that the Detroit clerk should earn $150,000 to address a “significant salary disparity” compared to less-populated cities. The Grand Rapids clerk earns $117,000, while the Ann Arbor clerk is paid $122,700, according to her letter. Winfrey said Detroit won’t be able to compete for qualified candidates if it pays its clerk less than other cities.
Council members also urged the compensation commission to recommend a $150,000 salary for Winfrey. In both letters, city officials agreed that the clerk is underpaid in comparison to the complexity and scope of the job.
The mayor is scheduled to unveil his 2023-24 budget proposal to the City Council at 10 a.m. Friday, March 3.