August 6, 2009, 6:56 pm
By Ray Rivera
From the City Room blog of the NYTimes :
At a time when many American workers are taking pay cuts, the New York City Council is giving its employees raises. Following the lead of the mayor’s office, which bumped its staff’s salaries last month, the Council on Thursday gave its employees back to back raises: 4 percent retroactive to March 2008 and another 4 percent retroactive to last March. The raises, which did not require a vote by the Council, mirror those announced last month by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for nearly 6,700 managers and nonunion workers.
The mayor’s raises will cost the city $45 million this year and come in the middle of the worst recession in decades. The council’s raises, affecting 550 council aides and central staffers, is expected to cost about $3.9 million for this year’s salaries and last year’s retroactive increases.
“We have taken every step towards achieving a responsible budget at the Council, and have in fact lowered our spending by more than $4 million over the past two fiscal years,” Maria Alvarado, a spokeswoman for the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said in a statement. “We made a decision to provide the cost of living increases after they were enacted by mayoral personnel orders in July.”
The raises, first reported on The Daily News’s Web site on Thursday, will bump the Council’s highest paid employee, Charles Meara, the chief of staff, to $209,973 from $194,132, a gain of $15,841. The Council’s next highest paid employee, Ramon Martinez III, whose title is first deputy chief of staff, will rise to $207,303 from $191,664.
City officials say the raises, which do not apply to council members, are based on salary increases negotiated last year with District Council 37, the city’s largest municipal union. The offices of the district attorneys and borough presidents have or are expected to enact similar raises. New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., a Democratic candidate for mayor who last month blasted the mayor’s decision to give his staff raises, has frozen the salaries of all his employees who make over $90,000 a year.