NEW YORK — Outrageous and ridiculous! That's how the City Council Speaker described the 71 percent reported pay increases sought by a handful of Council Members. The proposed increase was first reported by the Daily News and is receiving some strong backlash from some government watchdogs.
"The fact that a handful of them are out there right now talking about a raise that is more than the Governor, more than members of congress, just shows how out of whack they are with the reality of what they should be getting," Dick Dadey, executive director of the Citizens Union, said.
Dadey was shocked after hearing the Daily News report that at least a handful of City Council Members are back channeling for an $80,000 a year raise as a special commission evaluates the salaries of every elected official in the city.
"That salary comes with a lot of great benefits: healthcare, retirement, pension," Dadey said. "A lot of things that many of us in the private sector do not have access to."
Right now Council Members make more than $112,500 a year, not including any stipends or outside employment. According to the Daily News report, several members want that salary raised to $192,500 a year.
"Well the amount that's been portrayed in the paper of 192-thousand-dollars is outrageous and ridiculous," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. "It's not something that I support. I'm not sure who the press is talking to and who's talking."
The report comes at a time when Police and Fire Fighters received 1 and 2.5 percent raises respectively through arbitration.
While City Council members haven't had a raise since the commission last met in 2006, members have come under fire for stipends known as lulu's, some as much as $25,000.
"There's conversations about the stipends, there's conversations about the salaries, there's conversations about whether the City Council position should be part-time or full-time. That's a normal part of the deliberations," the Speaker said.
Dadey said he believes the Council Members are overdue for a raise, but thinks it should be far more modest than the $80,000 some are proposing. And even if the commission agrees, Dadey said the raise should not go into effect until the next election cycle.
"If the commission comes forward with a recommendation to raise the salaries of the City Council member office, the current City Council should say yes, but not for us, but for our successors who get elected in 2018."
The commission will hold meetings the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving and should make their recommendations by Dec. 1. After that the City Council will have to vote on the recommendation before it goes to Mayor de Blasio for final approval. As for the Mayor, he has already said he will not take a raise on his $225,000 salary during this term in office.