Council -- Mostly -- Passes on COLA

With just one exception, every City Council member will pass on some or all of a cost of living raise they were awarded July 1, according to a memo Council President Verna sent to City Finance Director Rob Dubow earlier this week.

All Council members were mandated to take 5.13 percent raise as of July 1. Twelve members received a $5,758 raise on their annual $112,223 salaries. Council's five leadership posts pay more, so their raises were slightly higher. Given the city's dire financial problems, most members felt this was a tough time to take a raise.

The exact amount returned – and where it will go – varies depending on the member.

Seven members are giving up their entire raise – Frank DiCicco, Anna Verna, Curtis Jones Jr., Darrell Clarke, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, Jim Kenney and Bill Green. Nine are giving up a smaller portion of the raise, based on the taxes they expect to pay on the money.

Most members are returning the money to the city’s general fund. But three have designated the funds to go elsewhere. Quiñones-Sánchez wants her raise to go to the 7th Councilmanic District. Councilwoman Marion Tasco will donate $3,593 to the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition. And Green is donating his raise to the Friends of the Free Library.

Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. is not returning his raise to the city general fund or another cause. He said that he plans to make several early property tax payments during the current fiscal year, to provide the city and school district with additional funds.

 "I am going to pre-pay and overpay my real estate taxes. I have already put in process a payment for my 2010 property taxes," Goode said. "I am giving money back to the city directly."

Goode didn't answer questions about exactly how much he plans to pay in additional real estate taxes.

Clarke, who stipulated that his raise be returned until the end of the year when he will revisit the issue, said it was important to make a symbolic sacrifice during the city’s financial crisis.

“I just don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to accept a raise, given the municipal workers’ situation,” Clarke said.

Council is guaranteed the cost of living allowance (COLA) based on legislation approved in 2003.

For the full list of who's giving what where, click here.

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