NY Daily News – November 12, 2015
by Jennifer Fermino
Poverty-crying City Council members are quietly plotting for a massive pay raise that will bring their six-figure salaries up to a whopping $192,500 — a 71% windfall — as cops face a proposed 1% hike, and firefighters will only see a 2.5% bump this year, sources told the Daily News.
More than half a dozen Council members — who earn base pay of $112,500 — have been holding hush-hush meetings to try to engineer the huge raises, which would bring their salaries above those of the governor and members of Congress, multiple Council sources said.
The members are hoping they can make the eye-popping raises more palatable to the public by agreeing to a slew of ethics reforms, which they hope will convince good government groups to back their plan, the sources said.
That includes forgoing the controversial stipends they receive for chairing committees — known as “lulus” — to accept a one-size-fits-all salary for all members, the sources said.
The average Council member gets a lulu of about $8,000 but some go as high as $25,000.
They will also agree to give up all outside income, the sources said.
The group is crafting a proposal to bring to the groups to try to bring them onboard, the sources said.
It’s unclear if it will be successful.
The high sum infuriated Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, who called it an “outrage.”
“It’s the height of hypocrisy for the City Council to seek a raise of this magnitude while New York City police officers are expected to settle for 1%,” said Lynch, referring to the pay increase recommended by a state arbitrator for cops over two years.
“How can they possibly justify a raise of that size while the men and women who risk their lives to protect this city struggle to support their families?”
Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, nearly dropped his phone when The News called him for comment.
“What?” he said when he heard the high number.
Once he absorbed the figure, he called it an “overreach” and said, “They should not be paid more than the governor.”
Sources said the members reached the number by looking at Council salaries in other large cities.
Los Angeles lawmakers make $185,000 a year.
In addition, commissioners at smaller city agencies — like the Department of Aging — make $192,198, so they thought it was comparable, said the sources.
The last time the City Council got a raise was in 2006.
The independent Quadrennial Commission, a three-member body that Mayor de Blasio convened in September, is mulling raises for all lawmakers.
They are expected to make a recommendation by the end of the year.
De Blasio has said he won’t take a raise this term.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has previously said she won’t weigh in on whether members deserve raises, but will leave it up to the commission. She declined to comment and her spokesperson referred to her earlier stance.
The commission will hold hearings on the matter at the end of this month.