Many Texans have had to make sacrifices this year. Now, some local elected officials are calling on city governments to do the same.
One recent high-profile example: Dallas mayor Eric Johnson took aim last week at “bloated” city salaries, saying in a Dallas Morning News op-ed:
“The city manager in Dallas makes $406,850 in salary annually—higher than $400,000 basic salary earned by the president of the United States. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s salary is $153,750 a year, roughly what the leader of a small city office in Dallas can earn. The leaders of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Education Agency, and the Texas health and Human Services Commission earn roughly the same amount as an assistant city manager in Dallas. The executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation makes tens of thousands of dollar less than the city manager in Dallas.”
To bring these public servant salaries back down to earth, the mayor recently pitched a budget amendment that would cut executive compensation through a tiered approach but leave untouched anyone earning less than $60,000. The proposal is estimated to free up “$6.5 million” for use elsewhere, like roads, police, and tax relief.
In presenting his idea to city council yesterday, the mayor told his colleagues: “If we can’t agree to cut salaries at Dallas City Hall now, then we never will, and we should just admit that.”
Unfortunately, his appeal fell on deaf ears as “not a single member voted for his amendment” during an informal straw poll. Still, the mayor’s office said he’ll push for a formal vote at a later date.
The fact no one on the Dallas City Council—other than the mayor himself—showed interest in reducing supersized city salaries is disheartening. This is a difficult time for everyone. Texas’ unemployment rate is still abnormally high as is the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s unemployment rate. Dallas food banks are overwhelmed. Small businesses are cratering. City governments must acknowledge this harsh new reality by rightsizing budgets and compensation.
We oftentimes hear local elected officials talk about the need for “shared sacrifice.” Now is the city of Dallas’ opportunity to turn words into action.