- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The next mayor of the District could be in line for a big boost in pay.

Outgoing Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday testified before the D.C. Council in favor of giving the next chief executive a raise from $152,000 to $200,000 — a salary that Mr. Williams says is more in line with that of other big-city mayors.

“I think it would also be commensurate with the responsibilities and complexities that face this city that is home to more than 570,000 and which caters to millions of workers and visitors,” Mr. Williams told the council’s Committee of the Whole during a public round-table hearing on the bill.

If approved, Mr. Williams’ proposal would not take effect until Jan. 2, the day the new mayor takes office. During his testimony, Mr. Williams noted the higher salaries of other big-city mayors, pointing out that Los Angeles has approved a raise in the mayor’s salary from $196,000 to $223,000, and a mayoral commission in New York City has recommended a salary increase from $195,000 to $225,000.

He also said the high salaries of D.C. agency and Cabinet heads — some of whom earn more than the mayor — mean the position should see a substantial increase in pay.

“We have no governor or county manager to assist with the mayor’s job,” Mr. Williams said. “For these reasons, I find the proposed pay increase to be justified.”

In 1998, the council moved to eliminate a local law that set the mayor’s salary at about $90,000.

The mayor’s current salary is tied to the rate earned by Level III federal employees and has seen incremental cost-of-living increases over the years. In 1999, the mayor earned a base salary of $125,900.

If approved, the legislation also would increase the pay for the incoming council chairman — likely to be Democratic nominee Vincent C. Gray — because the D.C. Charter mandates that the council chairman’s salary be $10,000 less than the mayor’s.

The possibility of Mr. Gray, the current Ward 7 council member who was not at yesterday’s hearing, earning $190,000 has become an awkward subject for some council members, who earn $92,500 a year.

“I did not run for this office for sake of a salary,” said council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat. “But the fact of the matter is there has been no increase in my salary or any other member of the council’s salary for seven to eight years.”

The bill also provides for transition costs of up to $250,000 and $150,000, respectively, for the new mayor and council chairman.

Mr. Williams said he would be willing to introduce an amendment to the bill that would provide $2 million in funding — some of which would go toward the salaries of council staffers.

Mr. Williams earlier had introduced the proposed boost in the mayor’s salary as part of an emergency measure, which can be approved without going into committee and by a majority vote on its first reading.

But the council opted to postpone its vote until the matter can be heard publicly. Mr. Williams said he plans to introduce permanent legislation Nov. 14, and officials said they hope to have both passed by the end of the year.

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