- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 28, 2006

D.C. Council members are considering giving themselves a pay raise that would allow them to earn more money than their counterparts in New York City, Chicago, Boston or Philadelphia.

One bill under consideration would lift their annual salaries from $92,530 to $115,000 — a 24 percent increase. Another bill would raise their pay to $122,530 — a 32 percent increase.

Yesterday, the lawmakers said they deserve a pay raise because they haven’t had one in years and their current pay is not adequate for the long hours they work.

“It tires me to hear any reference to this being a part-time job,” council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said during a council meeting. “This has been more than a full-time engagement. This has been my life for eight years.”

“At the very minimum, council members should receive a cost-of-living increase,” said outgoing council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat.

The council’s last pay raise occurred in 1999, when members’ salaries were frozen at their current level.

Lawmakers in cities with larger populations than the District’s next year will earn less than what D.C. legislators are considering for their salary. For example, Boston lawmakers will earn $87,500, while those in New York City will take home $112,500.

The median household income for the District last year was $47,221, according to the U.S. Census.

Outside City Hall, the council’s pay raise plans were met with mixed reactions.

“I don’t think they should get one now,” said John Griffin, 42, a sales representative assistant who lives in Northwest. “I would like to see if any progress is going to be made before they get a raise.”

Howard Fenton, 61, a retired federal worker who lives in Northwest, said that council members should keep their raise “to a minimum.”

But Kia Streater, a legal records management coordinator who lives in Northeast, said she didn’t “care one way or another.”

“Them making more money or less money does not put more money in my pocket,” said Miss Streater, 31.

Mr. Orange, who lost the primary for mayor, has proposed increasing his colleagues’ annual pay to $122,530 and raising the incoming mayor’s salary from $152,000 to $200,000.

He had proposed raising the council’s pay to $140,000 — a 51 percent increase — but scaled back the proposal after hearing from the public and conferring with his colleagues.

Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, has proposed a pay raise to $115,000 and the establishment of salary review commission to adjust the council’s pay on a regular basis.

Council member Vincent C. Gray, Ward 7 Democrat and incoming council chairman, also has proposed creating a salary commission.

The subject of pay increases initially was brought up after outgoing Mayor Anthony A. Williams introduced a bill that would raise the incoming mayor’s salary from $152,000 to $200,000, and the incoming council chairman’s salary from $142,000 to $190,000. Both positions receive annual cost-of-living increases.

“I think it’s appropriate, since the mayor has addressed the issue, that we address the issue of council member pay as well,” Mr. Orange said.

Members are likely to vote Dec. 19 on their raises, which would apply to the salaries of council members holding office next year.

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