The Westbrook City Council Monday voted to increase the future part-time mayor’s salary by $42,218 – from $6,500 to $48,718 – and also raised the stipends for councilors.

The vote was 5-2, with Councilors Victor Chau and Gary Rairdon opposed, to tie the salary and stipends to percentages of the latest U.S. Census Bureau’s Area Median Income statistic for Westbrook, which now is $81,198. The vote came after a first reading on the proposal and there were no comments from the public.

The council set the mayor’s pay at 60% of the AMI, or $48,718.80. The City Council president will receive a stipend raise based on 7% of the AMI. Using the latest figure, that stipend would rise to $5,683.86 from the current $3,500. The council vice president stipend would be 6% of AMI, or $4,871.88, up from $3,000; and councilors, 5%, or $4,059.90, up from $3,000.

The pay will be adjusted automatically annually with the rise and fall of the AMI. The raises will go into effect with the next election; sitting councilors will not get the raise without reelection.

“Nobody will benefit from this unless voters send them to do this job,” City Council President David Morse said.

Rairdon said the increases were astounding.


“When the citizens find this out, they’re going to be flabbergasted,” Rairdon told the American Journal Tuesday, emphasizing that the mayor’s job is a part-time position. “I was in shock.”

Deborah Shangraw, an active volunteer with various civic groups in the city, had plenty to say about the council’s action in an email to the American Journal Tuesday.

“It is disheartening that all but two city councilors have voted to benefit themselves with an increase in their pay. But more importantly, a huge increase for the mayor position,” Shangraw wrote. “Public service should not come with money. It is no longer service when you are paid, no matter the amount. If Mr. Morse is successful in his bid to hold the mayoral position in the upcoming special election … he will have voted himself a large sum of money for a very part-time position.”

“I applaud each councilor for the work they do, the time they give,” Shangraw continued, “but I am an adamant believer that the people should decide these matters, not those that may benefit from their vote.”

Chau, at the meeting, also said Westbrook voters should decide on the pay increases in November.

“I’m not here for the bucks,” he said. “If you lowered it to a $1, I would still serve.”


The current pay schedule dates back to 1987. Mayor Michael Foley, who proposed the pay increases, requested that the mayor be paid 40% of the AMI, or $32,479.20, but the council increased that figure to 60%.

Foley said his proposal for mayoral pay was structured similar to that of Portland, where he said the mayor receives 120% of the AMI. Portland has a full-time mayor.

Foley recently accepted a job in Gray as town manager and his last day as Westbrook mayor will be Monday, when Morse will be sworn in as acting mayor at a special City Council meeting.

Timing of the salary increase proposal was “appropriate given my departure,” Foley said at the council’s meeting this week.

The council focused on the large amount of time Foley had put into the job.

“The number of hours that Mayor Foley put in as mayor for $6,500,” Chau said, “it’s crazy.”

The amount of time worked is not specified for the mayor, according to City Administrator Jerre Bryant.

In reference to the council’s vote Monday, Bryant said all City Council agendas are posted on the city’s website and notifications are sent by text or email to those who have signed up to receive them. He also said there are public comment periods at the beginning and end of council meetings in addition to the time an item is to be discussed.

“These public comment opportunities are open to those attending the meeting in person or participating remotely,” Bryant said.

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