Wait, am I the only one who was a little caught off guard by the City Council’s vote the other night to give themselves a raise?
Going into Monday’s meeting, the big news—besides the rally to pressure the Sarno administration to finally implement anti-foreclosure ordinances passed two years ago—was the planned vote on whether to grant a pay raise to the mayor. Councilors ended up granting first-step approval (two more are needed) to a plan to increase the mayor’s salary from $95,000 to $135,000, effective next January.
That proposal has been kicking around the city for years (six, in fact, according to Councilor Tim Rooke, who’s been a long-time advocate of the idea), and has been discussed at numerous public hearings and meetings. Backers of the plan say the higher pay would better reflect the scope of the mayor’s job—including managing a $572 million municipal budget—and would attract a more competitive field of candidates for the job, including professionals now making more in the private sector.
The councilors’ proposed raise—which would boost their pay from $14,500 to $19,500—received first-step approval by a narrow split of 7 to 6. Voting for the raise: at-large Councilors Kateri Walsh and Bud Williams, Ward 1’s Zaida Luna, Ward 2’s Mike Fenton, Ward 4’s Henry Twiggs, Ward 6’s Kenneth Shea and Ward 7’s Tim Allen. Voting against the pay raise: Council President and at-large Councilor Jimmy Ferrera, at-large Councilors Tommy Ashe and Rooke, Ward 3’s Melvin Edwards, Ward 5’s Clodo Concepcion and Ward 8’s John Lysak.)
Compared to the mayoral raise, the councilors’ proposed raise has received decidedly less public attention, with no hearings or meetings on the matter. Let’s hope that lack of public input is remedied, with city taxpayers invited to weigh in on the plan.