Proposed raise for Lawrence city commissioners would make pay among highest in state
If a proposed pay raise for Lawrence city commissioners is approved, it would move commissioners from among the lowest-paid elected city leaders in the state to among the highest, trailing only Wichita, which has about four times the population of Lawrence.
An increase in pay for Lawrence’s five city commissioners is on the table after commissioners have gone 20 years without an increase in pay.
City Manager Tom Markus’ recommended budget for 2020 is proposing the first salary increase for city commissioners since 1999, but commissioners disagree on how much salaries should go up, the Journal-World previously reported. The recommended budget calls for salaries to more than quadruple for commissioners, from $9,000 to $38,000 annually. Some commissioners said such a steep increase was too much, especially considering that the recommended budget also calls for a property tax and utility rate increase.
If the proposed increase were to be adopted, only the state’s largest city would have a higher annual salary for city commissioners than Lawrence. Wichita, which has a population of about 390,000, pays its council members about $43,000 annually. The lowest-paid elected city leaders are in the smaller cities of Salina and Manhattan, where commissioners make $3,600 and $5,760 per year, respectively.
City officials told the commission that the proposed raise would bring commissioner pay more in line with Douglas County Commission salaries. In 2018, Douglas County Commissioners were paid $36,012, according to online open records. Interim County Administrator Sarah Plinsky’s proposed budget calls for raising that salary to approximately $39,000. The County Commission generally meets four times per month.
A summary of the meeting schedules and pay for elected city leaders for the largest cities in Kansas, compiled by the Journal-World, is as follows. The salaries of elected leaders of the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kan., are not included, as those leaders represent both the city and county government.
• Wichita, population 389,255: The City Council generally meets three times per month and on occasion holds an additional study session. The mayor’s position is full time; council members are part time. Council members make about $43,000 and the mayor makes $96,208.
• Topeka, population 125,904: The City Council generally meets three times per month. Council members make $20,000.
• Olathe, population 139,605: The City Council generally meets twice per month. Council members make about $13,100, the mayor pro tem makes about $15,700, and the mayor makes about $26,200.
• Overland Park, population 192,536: The City Council generally meets twice per month. Council members make $12,800, committee chairs make $14,400, the council president makes $14,400 and the mayor makes $32,000.
• Lenexa, population 55,294: The City Council generally meets twice per month. Council members make $11,031 and the mayor makes $22,033.
• Shawnee, population 65,845: The City Council generally meets twice per month. The council members make $9,615 and the mayor makes $16,272.
• Lawrence, population 97,286: The City Commission meets three times per month. Commissioners make $9,000 and the mayor makes $10,000.
• Manhattan, population 54,959: The City Commission meets four times per month. The commissioners make $5,760 and the mayor makes $6,960.
• Salina, population 46,716: The City Commission meets four times per month. Commissioners make $3,600.