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The Independent Salary Commission responds to public feedback and finalizes an amended salary proposal

Press Release
9 people around a table with laptops and screen
Hundreds of Portlanders offered feedback on the draft proposal. Going forward, a new independent salary commission will convene every two years after implementation to evaluate salaries of Portland’s elected officials.
Published

PORTLAND-Ore. -- At last night’s meeting, in response to public feedback, the Portland Independent Salary Commission (ISC) amended their proposal and arrived at a decision on final salaries for Portland’s elected officials. The new pay levels will take effect in January 2025, when a new slate of elected officials — mayor, auditor, and city council — begin their terms.

“The discussion of salaries is a personal topic that elicits strong feelings – and that’s why we are grateful for all the community feedback we’ve received that has helped us to arrive at a final decision,” said Salary Commission Co-Chair Rut Martinez-Alicea.  “That feedback will also inform the next salary commission that will convene every two years after implementation. We celebrate this amended proposal and outcome as democracy in action, and we thank those Portlanders who let us know their thoughts."

THREE TOPICS WERE CONSIDERED AND DISCUSSED AS POTENTIAL AMENDMENTS

To address comments from Portlanders, the commissioners discussed these potential amendments and made the decisions noted below:

  1. Proposed Amendment: Consider adjusting the floor salary for council from $142,404 to account for benefits provided by the City of Portland.

    Decision: The ISC adjusted the floor salary for future councilors to $133,207, taking into account medical benefits already provided by the City of Portland and removing that out-of-pocket cost from the annual salary.
     
  2. Proposed Amendment: Consider removing the COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) requirement and allow the next Salary Commission to consider cost of living increases

    Decision: The ISC removed the mandatory cost-of-living increases in recognition that future salary commissions will review for cost-of-living and to remove the potential conflict of interest from future elected officials giving themselves pay increases. 
     
  3. Proposed Amendment: Consider changing the language differential compensation proposal from 4% to a flat rate or a lower percentage.

    Decision: The ISC removed the increased rate for the language differential and agreed that elected officials should make the same rate of pay as other City employees at this time.

THE FINAL DECISION ON SALARY FIGURES

The Salary Commission has identified the following pay rates for elected positions. Since March, the commissioners studied compensation best practices and guiding principles and criteria to determine the pay rates.

As visible in table 1, below, only the council salary rates are set at a public sector thriving wage with employee-paid premiums and cost-of-living adjustment. The mayor and auditor salaries relied heavily on market rates in cities of comparable size.

Mayor:           $175,463.00

Auditor:         $168,758.00

Council:         $133,207.00

In addition, any elected official can choose to apply for the City of Portland’s Language Access Program and receive the differential pay amount if they qualify.

GUIDING DATA FOR SETTING SALARIES

The draft salary proposal contains the data that the commissioners studied to create their initial proposal. Additional data gathered after public feedback helped the ISC arrive at the final salary figures. The data used to amend the proposal can be found on the event pages for the July 20 and July 24 meetings

Table 1: Range of annual salaries considered for 2025 city councilors 

table with 3 columns showing range of salaires considered for city council in 202

SALARY COMMISSION AND THE NEW FORM OF GOVERNMENT BEGINNING JAN. 1, 2025

Approved by a majority of Portland voters in November 2022, Portland’s charter reform means a change in Portland’s form of government. The change includes voting for 12 city council seats.  For the first time in Portland’s history, the councilors will represent four geographic districts – three councilors per district.

The Independent Salary Commission was created to remove the conflict of interest from elected officials approving their own salary increases. The ISC is responsible for setting the salaries for the 14 elected officials at the City, including the mayor, the auditor and 12 councilors. 

After the salaries for the 2025 Council, Mayor and Auditor are in place, Portland Bureau of Human Resources will lead the work of a Salary Commission every two years to set and evaluate the salaries for all elected positions.   

While the charter only requires an affirmative vote of three commissioners, the Salary Commission adopted a full consensus model to reach agreement and the deadline for adopting the proposal was Aug. 1, 2023. City council approval is not required.

At its last public meeting on August 22, the Salary Commission will issue a final report.

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Christine Llobregat

Public Information Officer