NEW YORK — "Anytime you wrap up ten years of no raises into one year of a raise, it's going to be substantial," said Roy Richter, President of the NYPD Captain Endowment Association.
Richter understands this because over the last 10 years he has seen members of his union receive a 23.5 percent increase in salary. A significant raise for many, but nothing compared to the 32% increase members of the City council are about to receive. This after they voted to give themselves a hefty increase last Friday.
A 32% jump in salary is significant for any New York City worker, and the vast majority can use it, but while a raise of nearly one third in salary may seem outrageous when it comes to politicians, there are many like Richter who believe the increase is fair. The reason? It is long overdue according to City Council member Ritchie Torres.
"The city council did something that our charter not only allows but expects us to do. It requires the Mayor to convene a quadrennial commission every four years, to examine the compensation of the city council and the city council went 10 years without a quadrennial commission, went 10 years without a pay increase."
In doing so, it also transformed the position from part-time to full-time, which translates to no outside income, as well as no extra payments for committee work. Torres touts the moves as the most sweeping reform regarding the city council in 30 years.
"That political favoritism is gone and we are replacing it with a fairer more transparent system, so everyone will have the same base salary."
Additionally, there will be more transparency required from each member which Torres says makes City Hall much more different than the way elected officials in Albany do business.
"We are removing from our system the potential for corruption. We are removing political favoritism. We've been able to achieve reform here in the city council that is unimaginable in Albany. One of the greatest source of corruption in Albany has been outside income. Outside income has been banned in the city council. We are going much farther that in our colleagues in the state."
Richter says the move is reminiscent of what the city did under Mayor John Lindsey's administration to root out corruption within the NYPD. However, he also adds that the raise comes at a time when other workers are challenged with the economics of the city.
"You have a lot of people that are underpaid and deserve a raise and the people that are frustrated are the ones that don't get a raise for a while and if you have police officers that don't have a contract for a period of time and they receive a very small raise and you compare that to this, then that is not something that would be desired."