Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

What Happens If Steve Adler Forgoes His Salary?

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

It's no secret that Austin Mayor Steve Adler is independently wealthy and that he doesn't need the $82,000 and change his position pays every year.

Adler has said he instead wants to use the money to boost the salaries of some of his staff, but the move may have some tricky implications for his successor.

Steve Adler is not the only Austin politician to forgo his salary. Recently, former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd got paid one dollar to complete Sarah Eckhart's term as Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 2.

Why did he do that?

"Well, I had not been elected," says Todd. "I'd been appointed. And it was not money I had to have. And so I felt it was the right thing to do. Now, that being said, I would not say [forgoing a salary] is for everybody."

Back in 1991 when Todd became mayor, he says could not have afforded to live without a salary.

It's likely whoever succeeds Steve Adler will need a salary too.

Will that person then be judged for getting paid?

In 2013 during the government's shut down, the people who made national headlines were the politicians who did not forgo their salaries. It was viewed by many as the wrong thing to do.

In turn, those who relinquished their money didn't need it anyway.

Todd says he respects Mayor Adler's request to use his salary to boost some employees' pay, but it's not what he chose to do.

"That would be me dictating where that money went by me giving it away," says Todd. He also makes the point that "since it was [the] government's money" he thought it would be "appropriate" for the government to "decide where that savings went."

The discussion on whether or not Adler can forgo his salary and allocate it to his employees will take place during Thursday's first official meeting of the new Austin City Council.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
Related Content