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NYC Council votes 40-7 to raise members’ pay to $148,500

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, joined

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, joined by City Council members, discusses legislative reforms during a press conference at City Hall in Manhattan on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Photo Credit: Bryan R. Smith

Members of the New York City Council voted themselves a $36,000 raise Friday — more than $10,000 above the number suggested by an independent advisory salary panel — to $148,500 a year.

By 40-7, the council approved the first raise for itself since 2006, when the salary went up to $112,500 from $90,000.

“Every dollar is a worthy investment in a government that works full time for the people,” said Council member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), one of the legislation’s lead sponsors.

Among the “no” votes were all three Republicans in the overwhelmingly Democratic council.

Council member Alan Maisel (D-Brooklyn) also voted against the bill. While he planned to accept the money, he said the council should have followed the advisory panel’s recommendation. “I was happy with that,” Maisel said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who must sign the legislation before it can take effect, earlier this week said backers had “made a good case for it.”

Supporters noted that the legislation, which also prohibits most outside income, eliminates stipends for leadership posts and converts the job of council member to full time from part time.

Council members said they deserved the additional $10,000 because of the outside-income ban, which passed 45-2.

Fritz Schwarz, leader of the Quadrennial Advisory Commission that endorsed a lower raise, said only a handful of council members — three or four in the 51-member body — currently have such income.

Pay raises also will also go to officials including de Blasio, who will make $258,750; the city’s five district attorneys, who will earn $212,800; the city comptroller, who will make $209,050; and the council speaker, whose salary will be $164,500.

Dick Dadey, executive director of the good-government group Citizens Union, said that although he backs the raises and the new ethics rules, the secrecy and lack of meaningful public input in the process cast a pall over an otherwise praiseworthy development.

“Elected officials, when they have to raise their own salaries, they don’t want to deal with the issue,” he said, “and so they’d rather have it over and done with as quickly as possible.”

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