Yonkers lawmakers approve pay raises for council members and the mayor
In a pair of 6-to-1 votes, the Yonkers City Council passed a pair of bills Tuesday evening to increase the annual salary for all six council members, the council president and the mayor.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, who just won reelection for an unprecedented fourth term after the council extended term limits in November 2022, is set to receive a 46% annual salary increase.
The change would bring his current $156,000 salary to $228,000 and include a more than $70,000 one-time bonus for backpay retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023.
The increase would put Spano's salary among some of the highest elected officials in the state below New York City Mayor Eric Adams ($258,000) and Gov. Kathy Hochul ($250,000) but above the leaders of some of the state's other largest cities including City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown ($178,000), and City of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh ($130,000).
Council members would receive salary increases depending on their position including $88,000 for the council president, $73,000 for the majority and minority leaders, $58,000 for all other council members, plus a $15,000 stipend for chairing a committee.
Less than half a dozen residents spoke during the committee of the whole but all of them urged the council to not take up the bills.
"To go from $156,000 to $228,000 feels disproportionate. To go after retro pay seems greedy," said Yonkers resident Eileen O'Connor.
Councilmember Corazon Pineda Isaac was among the lawmakers who voiced their support for the pay raises.
"Knowing the amount of time, we put in I do believe that the raises are worthy," she said.
Republican councilman Anthony Merante, who most recently opposed Spano in a bid for mayor last month, was the lone 'no' vote on both proposals. He called it "unethical" for lawmakers to vote to raise their salaries and was concerned about the mayor's retroactive pay.
"The increases are a little drastic and they should've been done before the elections," said Yonkers City Councilman Anthony Merante.
He was particularly critical of giving the mayor back pay for all of 2023.
On Monday, a spokesperson for the mayor's office told News 12, “The chief executive’s compensation for one of the biggest cities in New York State has remained flat for 20 years. The City Council supports a change in salary to reflect the cost of living and place it more in line with other top elected officials across the State. Even then, this raise is well under two percent a year.”
Spano will call for a public hearing likely in early January. After that, the city charter requires the mayor to sign the bills or wait 10 days for them to go into law.