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Vote set on horse carriage cuts, 32% City Council pay raise

A horse-drawn carriage exits Central Park on Monday,

A horse-drawn carriage exits Central Park on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. Photo Credit: Louis Lanzano

A long-stalled push to banish horse-drawn carriages — and help Mayor Bill de Blasio fulfill a campaign promise — is to be voted on next Friday afternoon along with a 32 percent pay raise for New York City Council members.

The proposal bumps the annual salaries to $148,500 from $112,500, bans most outside income and eliminates bonuses, called “lulus,” which are now given for committee chairmanships. The council deemed its proposal “major structural reforms.”

The pay raise, the first since 2006, is even higher than recommended by an independent commission empaneled last year that suggested the lawmakers should get about $138,000 a year.

The carriage legislation would cut the number of horses to 95 from 220, mostly ban them from city streets and build a taxpayer-funded stable on public land in Central Park, with 75 allowed to work at a time.

The deal, which would boot pedicabs from operating in the southern end of the park, below the 85th Street Transverse, was negotiated behind closed doors with no input from the pedicab industries.

The pay hikes are the subject of a hearing to be held Wednesday.

Good-government groups slammed the process, questioning the urgency of pushing through the bill with little chance for meaningful public input.

“The mayor wants the horse-carriage bill, and the City Council wants a pay raise. It’s odd that they are being decided at the same time at the same meeting,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of the group Citizens Union.

De Blasio has been dogged by his promise, made in 2013 when he was a long shot candidate for the mayoralty, that he’d abolish the horse-drawn carriage industry “on day one” of his administration. Ban advocates targeted a front-runner who had refused to get rid of the industry. But fulfilling his promise proved a Sisyphean task, stranding the mayor between the Teamsters, which represent the drivers, and the ban proponents, to whom he had given his word.

Pay raises would also go to the mayor, who would make $258,750; $212,800 for the city’s five district attorneys; $209,050 for the comptroller; $184,800 for the public advocate; $179,200 for the five borough presidents; and $164,500 for the council speaker, who heads the body.

De Blasio, who said he wouldn’t accept the raise this term, would not say whether he’d sign the pay-raise legislation, when asked during a radio interview Friday morning, saying only that he was studying the proposal.

The proposals are “historic,” de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, and they represent the “biggest reform packages in terms of the City Council that we’ve ever seen. ” De Blasio denied to WABC Radio host Rita Cosby that there was a quid pro quo tying the horses to the pay legislation.


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