A few dozen Quincy citizens are devoting their holiday weekend to gathering signatures on a petition to roll back the raises City Council approved last month for councilors and Mayor Thomas Koch.

In June, the council approved ordinances giving each councilor a raise from $30,000 to $44,500 and boosting the mayor’s salary from about $150,000 to $285,000. The raises, effective next year, would be the first in a decade for both councilors and the mayor.

Activists are trying to gather 8,000 signatures by Monday to force City Council to re-vote on the ordinances. They said the mayor doesn’t deserve such a large raise, but their overarching complaint is how the decision was made. They said City Council “cut the people out” of the process by refusing to receive public comments or allow public discussion before their meetings.

“Could there be anything better on July Fourth than to be out collecting signatures to repeal an ordinance that was passed in almost an undemocratic fashion?” asked Claire Fitzmaurice.

Fitzmaurice and other activists created a group called A Just Quincy to push back. They gathered in a park Thursday morning before scattering around the city to collect signatures at T stations, grocery stores and other locations, and they are planning a rally Sunday afternoon in front of City Hall.

Activists have been pleased so far with the amount of public engagement on the issue, specifically among Quincy’s large Asian community.

“We do see more Asian people come out to sign, more than activities before, because usually Asian people kind of keep quiet,” said event organizer Susan Yuan. “This time they are really fired up.”

Still, the 8,000 signature threshold to force a re-vote is a high bar. Several of the organizers said some city employees and business owners have declined to sign because they fear retribution from city officials.

Even if the group falls short, it expects to continue advocating for a rollback.

“These people aren’t going away until this gets resolved the way it should be,” said Mike Cotter, gesturing to the group gathered in the park Thursday morning. “We believe that the mayor certainly deserves a raise. But not this raise. Not this amount, not this way.”

Maggie McKee, one of the group organizers, said the issue is one of fairness. The mayor’s raise far outstrips the total annual raises that teachers and other city employees have gotten.

“I think all city employees should have raises,” she said.

McKee compared pay raises for the mayor and city teachers, who she said have received raises between zero and 3% each year since the mayor’s last pay bump in 2015. The raise the council approved for the mayor amounts to 6% a year since his last raise.

“That just doesn’t seem fair, that disparity,” McKee said. “If I were a city employee, I’d be really upset about that zero to 3% compared to 6%.”

Quincy City Council hired an outside consulting firm to analyze comparable salaries; that group issued a report suggesting a range between between $298,957 and $370,000.

Koch told the Quincy Sun: “I’ve had one raise in 17 years. We brought an outside company in, the number we chose was below the range that was created by the outside company. I’m comfortable with the number,” Koch said.

If the Quincy mayor’s raise to $285,000 takes effect, he will earn more than his counterpart in Boston. Mayor Michelle Wu’s current salary is $207,000, and her pay is slated to ramp up to $250,000 in 2026.

City Council Chairman Ian Cain — who is running for U.S. Senate against Elizabeth Warren — has proposed a new process for establishing salaries of the mayors and city councilors that would make the raises more routine and would create an independent commission to review them.

Corrected: July 05, 2024
This story was updated to correct the new salaries for city councilors. The initial proposal would have increased their pay to $47,500 a year, but the ordinance councilors approved in mid-June was for $44,500 a year.