Denver City Council approves raises for highly paid mayoral appointees

The mayor’s administration believes the raises will help the city stay competitive.
2 min. read
An American flag waves outside of Denver’s Wellington Webb building downtown. Oct. 31, 2020.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Several already high-paying city jobs will be getting a pay bump.

The Denver City Council voted 12-1 on Monday night to approve raises for 11 positions appointed by the mayor. Once the bill is signed by Mayor Michael Hancock, whose administration backed the proposal, the raises for various executive directors will go into effect retroactively to Jan. 1.

The highest pay increase will be for DIA's CEO, which means current CEO Phil Washington's salary will increase by $80,820 to an annual salary of $346,975 -- a 30 percent raise. Money for that salary increase will come from revenue made by the airport, not the city's general fund.

At least five other positions will see a raise of 15% or more: public safety director, the parks director, the city's public health director, department of human services director, and general services director. All the positions pay more than $150,000 a year. Their salaries are set by city law, which is why changing them requires a vote by city council.

The positions had not seen any kind of pay increase in six years, according to city documents, with the exception of the director of excise and license. The pay increases were proposed to help the city stay competitive in recruiting and retaining people.

Councilmember Candi CdeBaca was the only council member to vote no on the proposal. During the bill's first reading last week, she called the increases "inappropriate" because they were being proposed toward the end of Hancock's term, and suggested the raises should be considered by the new mayor set to be elected next year.

CdeBaca said on Monday night that there were pay inequities for non-appointed city staff that need to be addressed. Her colleagues supported the proposal because many felt it was unfair that most of the appointed staff had not received salary increases in years.

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