The City Council’s plan to give itself an astonishing 32 percent raise is a stinging slap in the face to New Yorkers.
Under a proposal to be discussed tomorrow and voted on Friday, council members would earn $148,500 a year — up from their annual salary of $112,500. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito would get more, $164,500.
The hikes are $10,000 higher than the recommendations the city’s Quadrennial Advisory Commission unveiled in December. The expert panel reviewed cost-of-living data, elected officials’ responsibilities and salaries in other cities. Clearly, City Council members didn’t think the commission’s recommendation of $138,315 was enough.
Council members contend the pay increases are deserved because, in return, they will approve ethics reforms — including requiring online financial disclosures and banning outside income. Moreover, they will officially consider themselves full-time workers, and end “lulus” — the extra money they pocket from chairing committees.
It’s absurd that the council is trying to circumvent the commission’s recommendations just because its members want more. It’s laughable that they want more money in exchange for more accountability and better behavior, no matter how stringent the new requirements. Are they just arrogant or out of touch with their constituents — or both?
Consider this: If approved, the new salary of a council member will be nearly three times NYC’s median household income of $52,737.
Then there’s the issue of timing. The City Council is planning another vote on Friday — to approve Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to reduce the number of carriage horses and limit them to Central Park. Critics wonder whether there’s deal-making going on — a quid pro quo to give the council its raise in exchange for approval of the mayor’s carriage horse proposal. City officials reject that argument, but the timing doesn’t look good for anyone.
It’s time to do what’s right. The City Council should approve the ethics reforms and, perhaps, a raise, but one that doesn’t go a dollar beyond the commission’s very generous recommendation. Anything more is far too much.