The Ithaca Common Council voted to change its payment structure for its members. At the Wednesday, Sept. 6 meeting, the Council decreased Ithaca’s mayoral salary by over 50 percent and increased the salary of Common Council alderpersons from $13,141 to $17,091, effective Jan. 1, 2024, when the new mayor and Council members are sworn in.
The salary of Ithaca’s mayor was reduced from $61,489 to $30,000, representing a 51.2 percent decrease in salary. The previous salary was set in January 2022, raised from the previous salary adjustment of $58,561 in January 2016, when the mayor played a larger role in managing the City than they will in the upcoming year.
The alderperson salary raise — from $13,141 to $17,091 — represents a 30.1 percent increase. The law changing salary rates was passed with the justification that the city manager position would lessen the workload of the city’s mayor. The council established the revised salary amounts in an Aug. 9 special meeting.
“The city is undertaking a transition, as we all know, to [a] city manager form of government,” Mayor Laura Lewis said. The City is actively recruiting for a city manager, whose salary will be between $160,000 to $185,000, as unanimously agreed upon in an Aug. 2 meeting. According to the City of Ithaca website, “with salary and benefits the Mayor, the Mayor’s executive assistant and the Chief of Staff cost the City approximately $213,000 [and] under the new structure, the full-time city manager will earn a bit more than the Chief of Staff and the Mayor will earn slightly less than the current Mayor.”
First introduced to Ithaca by former Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 during his State of the City address in January 2021, the city manager position will “act as the executive for the business of running the City of Ithaca,” per the city manager recruitment brochure. Although the mayor will continue duties such as leading the development of policy, appointing boards and committees and serving as Ithaca’s ceremonial leader, the inaugural city manager will take on many former mayoral roles, like serving as the city’s chief executive officer, developing an annual budget and supervising department heads.
Soon after Myrick’s address, the Ithaca City Administration Council formally proposed the creation of the new role in April 2021. In November 2022, the issue made it to the ballot as proposition two, and Ithacans voted overwhelmingly to pass it with 78.96 percent of the vote.
Vying for a mayoral role with half the current salary include Democrat Robert Cantelmo, grad, and Republican Janis Kelly ’71, with the announcement of who will fill the city manager position to come.