OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — When Mayor Jean Stothert first took office in 2013, she reduced her own pay by 10% and froze it for four years - meaning no raise for her first term.
She says she did this to rein in the budget.
"The 2013 budget when I was first elected was supposed to be over $13 million short by the end of the year," Mayor Stothert said. "I thought I was going to have to make some very tough decisions and I wanted to show people that I was part of those tough decisions."
Now in her second four-year term, the conversation has shifted towards a salary increase.
This year, the Mayor saw her first pay raise to $104,358 with a 3% annual increase for the remainder of her term.
However, on top of that, the Omaha city council is thinking about an additional increase to the Mayor's salary.
Stothert says, despite the additional pay increase, the annual 3% is for cost of living.
"What is on the City Council agenda coming up for mayor's salary isn't going necessarily to me," Mayor Stothert said. "I hope it's for me, but it's for whoever is mayor in 2021 and on."
She would need to win re-election to receive the proposed pay increase.
Stothert also stresses she did not ask the city council to do a study into salary wages for mayors in comparable cities.
"Do I think I am compensated well enough? I do," Stothert said. "I don't do this for the money. It's public service for me."
Another reason Omaha's council members are hoping to increase the mayor's salary is to close the pay gap between men and women.
Stothert says although she chose to lower her pay in 2013 for budget reasons, she doesn't want to send the message that women don't deserve to be paid the same as men.
Under the current city council proposal, the 3% increase would go through 2026. This would come out at a nearly $125,000 annual salary for any future mayor.
The next city council meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m.