Alexandria City leaders approve pay raises for themselves

WASHINGTON — It’s going to pay more to be an elected leader in Alexandria beginning next year.

The city council unanimously voted to approve pay hikes of at least $10,000 for the mayor and members of the city council. It’s the first major pay hike in about 15 years.

Members of the council will see salaries go up from $27,500 to $37,500, while the mayor’s salary will jump from $30,500 to $41,600 starting next year.

The vote to approve the pay hikes, which were recommended by a compensation committee, was 6-0, though half of those who voted to approve the hikes won’t be around to benefit having recently lost re-election campaigns in the state’s primary.

The mayor and members of the council are considered part-time positions, and the workload that comes with getting elected garnered the most focus when it came to debate about the pay hikes.

It was prompted by the two city residences who spoke about the issue. Both said they were in favor of the pay raises, arguing these were more like full-time jobs in all actuality.

Councilman Paul Smedberg, one of those who was defeated earlier this month, objected to the notion.

“We are a city-manager form of government,” he said. “These were not intended to be full-time positions. In fact if people manage it correctly, and if the city manager and his team manage things correctly, these are not full time positions.”

Alexandria’s mayor expressed a different sentiment.

“For me, I’ve definitely been full time, or more than full time,” said Mayor Allison Silberberg, who was also defeated in her re-election efforts. “It’s not about managing one’s time, we are managing my time. It’s about a remarkable schedule to do all that one needs to do…That’s just the reality of the job today.”

Smedberg then responded back: “It’s one thing choosing to do certain types of activities, or ceremonial activities or going to events, and there might be a level of expectation there, and that’s a soft part of the job.”

“But I view it from more of a real strategic approach and how we interact with the city manager and engaging that way on a much more substantive level.”

Smedberg went on for about another minute, adding “that’s a choice that people make.”

After another minute of back and forth with Silberberg, she called for a roll-call vote and the pay hikes were quickly approved.

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