Minneapolis City Council members are paid more than most of their peers — and the mayor is paid less — in comparable cities across the nation.
That's the conclusion of a study commissioned by council members, who responded to it with quiet.
The city's 13 council members are currently paid $109,846 a year, and Mayor Jacob Frey is paid $140,814 annually.
Neither of those figures will change for at least the next two years — the end of the council members' elected terms — according to a resolution and annual budget unanimously approved by the council and signed by Frey. Under a process created by the council that follows state law, council members and the mayor set the salaries to take effect the next elected term, and run for the duration of those terms.
The study, completed by the city clerk's office, found that of nine comparable cities and St. Paul, only Seattle pays its City Council more in cost-of-living-adjusted dollars than Minneapolis. Minneapolis taxpayers pay their council members nearly $29,000 more than the average of those nine cities.
Meanwhile, Frey's salary is about $26,000 less than the average of those peer cities' mayors, including Mayor Melvin Carter in St. Paul, which has about 120,000 fewer residents.
It's unclear how Minneapolis ended up this way, although its legacy of having a relatively weak mayor and strong council is a likely cause.
The council directed the clerk's office to undertake the study after voters approved a 2021 ballot question changing the city's government structure to a "strong-mayor, weak-council" system.
Like Minneapolis, all nine cities of comparable populations have a strong mayor and city council positions described as full time.
Over the past decade, Minneapolis City Council members have voted to give their next-term selves raises averaging about 2% a year. In 2014, they made $84,362. Across the nation, some cities give their elected officials regular raises, while others don't.
What's clear when comparing Minneapolis to a range of cities of generally comparable size and prominence — from Boston to Denver — is that Minneapolis pays more. The closest is Denver, which has about 200,000 more people and pays its 13 council members $110,596 in raw dollars. However, when adjusted to reflect the cost of labor in Minneapolis, their salaries would be comparable to a $106,107 salary in Minneapolis. Also: Denver council members double as Denver County board members in a consolidated system that's different from the relationship between Minneapolis and Hennepin County.
Not everything is gravy for Minneapolis council members; in Atlanta and Milwaukee, council members get a city-provided car.
For a "strong mayor," Frey's paycheck isn't so brawny.
Mayors of the following cities all earn more than Frey: Atlanta; Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Milwaukee; Seattle; Tampa, Fla.; and St. Paul. Frey's paycheck is fatter than his counterparts' in Pittsburgh and Omaha, Neb. He does get a city-provided car, like his peers in all those cities except Denver and St. Paul, where the mayor's salary is $146,182.
How St. Paul does it
Comparing Minneapolis to St. Paul is fraught because St. Paul is smaller and considers its seven council members part-time employees.
They're paid half the mayor's annual salary.
Will Minneapolis change?
Minneapolis Clerk Casey Carl presented findings to the council's budget committee as their last item before debating the city budget earlier this month.
It's unclear whether the next council, which will include 12 of the 13 members of the current council, will look to change any of the compensation. All 13 council seats and the mayor will be on the ballot in 2025, and the soonest any changes could take effect would be Jan. 1, 2026.
"Thank you, Clerk Carl, for that presentation," Budget Committee Chair Emily Koski said after the presentation, looking to her colleagues. "Are there any questions? ... Is there any further discussion?"
There was none.