While other key city agencies are seeing budget cuts and furloughs, Baltimore’s top elected officials are set to see a 2.5 percent pay hike in January.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s annual salary will rise from $159,380 to $163,365 and Council President Jack Young and City Comptroller Joan Pratt will see an annual salary increase to take them from $105,535 to $108,173.
City Council Vice President Edward Reisinger’ salary will go from $67,844 to $69,540 and each council member will see a $1,535 increase from $61,383 to $62,918.
The last time City Hall officials saw a pay increase was in 2007, when the annual salary for city council members was $57,000.
The raises are the result of a decision by a commission created in 2006 to remove elected officials from the process of setting their pay.
The resulting decision by the city’s Commission on Compensation of Elected Officials in 2010 linked pay raises for elected officials to cost of living increases in pay for city union employees.
Many of the elected officials have said they will donate their pay raises to charitable causes.
“I will either find a charity to donate my increase to or more than likely I will use it to support stuff that I do in the community,” Councilmember Brandon Scott told the AFRO.
Although the state mandates that officials can’t forfeit their salaries, donating is always an option, as opposed to keeping their increases.
“It’s an automatic increase that they don’t control,” Young’s spokesman, Lester Davis told the AFRO of the independent commission set up in 2006 as a buffer between that is tied in with the unions.
The pay increase would increase the mayor’s salary from $159,380 to $163,365—in a decision she stressed was a decision on city official’s compensation set by the Commission Board and ratified by the Board of Estimates to eliminate the politics.
The commission’s ruling was ratified Nov. 23 by the city’s Board of Estimates. The mayor and council chairman abstained from the vote, Rawlings-Blake said, noting “you can’t vote on your own increase.”
“I get to do a job that I would do for free, because I love my job,” she said.
Reporters then asked the Mayor what she plans to do with this years raise and she said, “I haven’t decided yet, but in the past I have donated a huge portion to different charities.”
“I’ve given my raises to the Maryland Food Bank. I’ve given it to youth works, so we could try to provide more opportunities for young people to find employment so more of them are on the path to be able to provide for themselves and their families as adults,” said Rawlings-Blake.