Most of Philly Council Giving Back Raises

Mayor, cabinet, other city officials turning down increases

Most Philadelphia City Council members will not be taking the salary increases they’re eligible to receive starting July 1.

The 1.9 percent raise would be a cost-of-living-adjustment that’s based on the June Consumer Price Index. The formula for automatic annual COLA’s was set in legislation approved back in 2003.

Members of council were advised that they could accept the raise or reject it and instead either send the additional money back to the city’s general fund or donate it to a favorite charity. They could also pocket a portion of the increase and give the rest back to the city or make a charitable donation.

According to a report, 13 of of the 17 council members refused the raise. Those accepting the roughly $2,300 COLA are At-Large Republicans Jack Kelly, who is retiring, and Frank Rizzo, who suffered a primary reelection defeat, along with Seventh District Democrat Maria Quinones Sanchez and First District Democrat Frank DiCicco, who will retire at the end of the current term

Kelly, Rizzo and DiCicco all participated in the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), making them eligible for six-figure lump sum payments, in addition to their monthly pension checks.

Sanchez is running for a second city council term with no opponent in the general election.

Mayor Nutter said he won’t be taking a raise. Cabinet members and commissioners also in line for more money will follow the mayor’s lead.

In fact, Nutter will continue returning money to the city, by cutting his salary by 10 percent and taking two weeks of unpaid furlough in the next year. Nutter’s roughly $170,000 salary could be above $200,000 by now, if not for giving back well over $40,000 since the financial crisis took hold in 2008.

The salary increase would boost city council salaries to $120,232, up from $117,991. The president and four others in council leadership positions earn more.

A Pew study released in February, comparing 15 big city councils, found Philadelphia had the fourth highest average city council salary ($121,107), behind Los Angeles ($178,789), Washington, D.C. (130,538) and New York ($121,725).

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