Denver’s City Council last night voted themselves a 6.6 percent pay raise, from just over $78,000 a year to just over $83,000, taking effect in steps with the initial raise implemented in 2013 and the full raise not in place until 2014. The vote will also bump the mayor’s salary from about $146,000 to about $155,000. Benefits add another $30,000 or so in total compensation.
Some are calling yes votes by mayoral candidates Doug Linkhart and Michael Hancock political suicide, but so far the outcry seems decidedly muted.
Every four years outgoing city council members must set compensation levels for new office holders who will take office after the municipal election. Raises are supposed to follow set schedule based on the lower of two indexes–the Consumer Price Index and a career service employees average.
Of the three sitting council members running for mayor, only Carol Boigon voted against the raises. All three issued statements, which are below.
“As I’ve been saying the last three weeks when this issue has been before us, we are going through a time unlike any in recent memory. Middle income families are struggling to put food on their tables and we are confronting a budget deficit of $100 million, with education and other vital city services facing cuts. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience consider a raise for my colleagues, me or the mayor, and I will not take it if it passes. When leaders are in a position to cut pay for workers, they need to be just as hard – if not harder – on themselves.”
“I know people are struggling in this tough economy. I’ve spent my entire career standing up and fighting for kids, families, neighborhoods and schools that have been left behind. I have worked tirelessly to help close $350 million in budget shortfalls the past few years and as mayor I will not accept the salary adjustment. However, I believe very strongly that we can’t let public service or politics become a playground for only the rich. Serving on the Denver City Council is a full-time job, and we need to ensure that working-class, diverse groups of people have the opportunity to lead Denver in the future.
This is about allowing everyday Denver residents to serve in elective office. This is about the future and carving a path for young people who may want to serve their fellow citizens. This is about being a leader and standing up to do what is right, not what is politically expedient.”
“This is a non-issue for today’s budget. We should be delaying any increase in deference to the economy, but not engaging in political posturing regarding future increases that are spelled out in city ordinance. I know times are tough. If elected mayor, I will decline the additional funds as a result of the compensation rate change.”