POLITICS & ELECTIONS

SLC Mayor Mendenhall proposes her salary increase by 26% amid turbulent budget meetings

May 22, 2024, 10:42 PM

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall shares the 2024-25 recommended budget at a Salt Lake City Coun...

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall shares the 2024-25 recommended budget at a Salt Lake City Council meeting at the Salt Lake City and County Building in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. The meeting followed an earlier work session that included discussion on the Capital City Revitalization Zone and redeveloping around the Delta Center for an incoming NHL team. She has proposed her salary as mayor be increased. (Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

(Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Amid multiple budget meetings Tuesday, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and city council members proposed a salary increase for themselves. Mendenhall’s proposal adds an approximately $44,000 raise for herself.

A document in the meeting agenda clearly stated Mendenhall’s proposition, which would boost her compensation from approximately $168,000 to nearly $212,000 — a 26% increase. Council members would jump from about $42,000 to $52,000.

Ordinance – Appendix a – FY… by mculbertson

Salt Lake City ordinance covers council member pay, stating that each member “will be 25% of the mayor’s annual salary,” and should be adjusted at the beginning of each fiscal year to be sure the number equals 25%.

The budget also includes a 5% general pay increase for all employees, which was a highlighted topic during multiple budget meetings addressing city employee compensation. In the mayor’s recommended budget book, the overview of the general fund’s salary, benefits and compensation costs makes no mention of the mayor’s salary increase.

A spokesman for Mendenhall’s office, Andrew Wittenberg, made a statement Wednesday arguing Mendenhall leads the “municipal government of the most populous city in one of the fastest-growing, most dynamic states in the U.S.”

“The base pay for the position of mayor in Salt Lake City falls at number 28 among city leaders across Utah — paying less than city managers or city administrator positions in smaller cities like Clinton, Pleasant Grove, Spanish Fork and Taylorsville.”

To be specific, the city manager in Spanish Fork in 2023 was recorded making $284,220, and Clinton recorded $231,865. But Salt Lake City does not have a city manager, and therefore, the mayoral position serves similarly.

Regardless, the proposition angered some, and one resident, Riley Hewlett, spoke out at a city council meeting.

“Some of your constituents work minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and sometimes even less than that. The mayor is suggesting over $200,000 a year, which is way more than our teachers make, some doctors make,” she said.

Still, Wittenberg argued that the mayor’s position has not received a market-rate adjustment in “at least 10 years.” Mendenhall has, however, received incremental increases since in office, according to the Office of the State Auditor.

“This proposal would bring the mayor’s pay to ninth among Salt Lake City’s own cabinet and to ninth among other city leaders in Utah,” he said.

The 2024 and 2025 fiscal year’s budget is scheduled to be finalized on June 4. There will be another opportunity for the public to share thoughts about the proposed changes, but the city council has not specified the next meeting date.

The city’s fiscal year begins July 1.

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SLC Mayor Mendenhall proposes her salary increase by 26% amid turbulent budget meetings