- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — Mayor L. Douglas Wilder is expected to receive a 20 percent pay increase just five months into the job.

The salary for Mr. Wilder, a former Virginia governor, would increase by $25,000, to $150,000 a year. The salary is slightly less than that of the city’s highest-paid employee, school Superintendent Deborah Jewell-Sherman, who makes $152,250 a year.

The City Council added the raise to a list of amendments to Mr. Wilder’s budget, expected to be adopted Monday. Mr. Wilder, the first popularly elected mayor in 60 years, did not ask for the raise in the budget he submitted to the council and said he had not discussed the salary increase with council members.

“If Doug Wilder was acting as a figurehead or a very passive chief executive, that might be one thing, but it is safe to say he has been very much hands-on, active and strong,” said council member William Pantele, who originally proposed a $50,000 salary increase.

Council member Ellen Robertson opposed the raise, saying Mr. Wilder’s salary should be based on “position, not personality.”

“The pay range should be driven by job description and standards,” she said. “Public servant pay should not be the driving force to serve. Council should not be making this decision.”

In the past, the council would appoint a city manager to run City Hall and propose budgets. But in 2003, voters endorsed a ballot initiative calling for at-large mayoral elections. Mr. Wilder, who helped lead the drive, won the election the following year and is in charge of proposing the budget.

In June last year, about a month after Mr. Wilder announced his run for the office, the council set the mayor’s salary at $125,000. The city previously paid the mayor $27,000, when the position was largely ceremonial.

Most other city employees would be eligible for an average raise of 3 percent next fiscal year.

“It’s really not right that [Mr. Wilder] should get that big of a raise, if they are not going to propose that for the rest of the employees of the city,” said Mary Paulette, president of the John Marshall Lodge No. 2 Fraternal Order of Police, which represents city police officers and others.

Mr. Wilder, the first black American elected governor, also earns a $50,000 salary as a professor at the institution that bears his name: the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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