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Typical Mayor Pay Scale

by William Henderson

Residents of cities, towns and villages elect mayors to represent their interests as well as the interests of their community. Mayors typically earn a salary based on the size of the town or city where they serve. Some mayors earn nothing while others take home hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Average Salary

According to salary calculators at jobsites Indeed and Simplyhired, mayors earn an average of $62,000 a year. That figure, however, doesn’t tell the whole story. Most cities and towns base a mayor’s compensation on several factors, including experience and the other benefits they get. Some mayors even waive their salaries or take a token amount each year, choosing instead to invest it back into their town or community. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg earns $1 a year for his service. Alex Damon, the mayor in Cordell, Oklahoma, announced in January 2013 that he would start working for free, after an audit turned up potential mismanagement of city funds and potential overpayments.

City Size

The larger the city or town, the more the mayor earns. The Association of Washington Cities, for example, found that of the 92 cities and towns in the state with populations between 715 and 5,000, only 17 mayors earned more than $10,000 and six of these mayors earned nothing. That same study found that mayors in 95 Washington cities and towns earned more than $10,000, including Seattle mayor Mike McGinn, who earned $169,956. In Utah, salaries of the state's 140 mayors range from $898 to $175,652.

Per Capita Considerations

Earning upward of $175,000 a year may sound like a lot, until you consider that that salary represents services provided to everyone who lives in that town or city. In other words, you can also look at mayoral salaries in terms of per capita rates. For example, in 2009, Seattle, with a population of 612,000, paid its mayor $169,956, which works out to be about 27 cents per person. In Centennial, Colorado, the mayor earns $850 a month, or a yearly salary of $10,200. Spread that salary out among the city’s 100,377 residents and you get a per capita rate of about 10 cents per resident.

Fringe Benefits

On top of their annual salaries, mayors often get an attractive benefits package. Some cities and towns offer mayors health insurance, expense accounts and access to city vehicles. Some mayors are also reimbursed for travel and fuel expenses while performing mayoral services. Living rent free is also a perk that some mayors enjoy. Mayor Bloomberg, for example, has access to an official residence though he opts to live in his Upper West Side home instead.

About the Author

William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images