Arlington, VA

This week, Arlington County Board members will consider a proposal that would allow them to raise their salaries for the first time since 2012.

Members are scheduled to vote tomorrow (Tuesday) to raise the maximum level at which they can set their salaries, choosing from one of three possible options:

  • Option 1: $61,034 for members, and $67,464 for the chair
  • Option 2: $89,851 for members, and $95,734 for the chair
  • Option 3: $129,429 for members, and $135,312 for the chair

Currently, the salary cap for Board members is $57,337 a year, but members are currently paid $55,147. The member serving as Board Chair (currently Christian Dorsey) is paid $60,662, but the salary cap for his position is $63,071.

A staff report to the Board noted that 223 people responded to an online survey and 210 of those respondents picked a salary level they thought appropriate. The majority (143) chose a salary level between $57,000 and $84,999. The rest (67) chose somewhere between $85,000 and $120,999.

The report also noted that current salary levels are below the regional median income level for a single person ($85,000) and the level for a family of four ($121,300) and are generally below salaries paid to regional legislators in other jurisdictions.

Board members are required to wait to raise their pay caps until at least two members are running for re-election, which happens every four years. Currently, Board Chair Dorsey and member Katie Cristol are up for re-election.

The Board has until July 1 to vote on the raise, otherwise they’d have to wait another four years for a chance to vote again.

Option 1 ($61,034) added annual 2.27 percent increases to the existing salary base ($57,337). Options 2 and 3 ($89,851 and $129,429, respectively) factored in a starting point based on area median income for individuals (Option 2) and a family of four (Option 3) and increased that by 2.27 percent each year for the next four years.

Serving on the County Board is intended to be a part-time position, though in practicality the schedules of Board members leave little time for other jobs.

Board member Libby Garvey previously said her colleagues needed higher salaries to keep up with the work involved in attending the county’s many local and regional group meetings.

“I talk to people about how we’re a five-member basketball team with no back-ups so we have to play the entire game all the time,” she said.

New salary caps would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020 if the Board approves them tomorrow, and would last until Dec. 31, 2023. Members would be able to decide after January whether to raise their salaries, up to the the maximum amount they set.

Image via Arlington County

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