Nine City Council members just wrapped a discussion without coming to a decision about what to do with a 5 percent cost of living [COLA] raise they were due start receiving last week. The raises are guaranteed as part 2003 legislation we explained here earlier today. Click here to see what Council is paid and what the raises would be.
Council President Anna Verna declined to be interviewed after the meeting because no decision was reached. Through a spokesman, she said there was consensus in Council to not take the COLA raises. Council Majority Leader Marian Tasco agreed that her colleagues didn't want to take the raise. Three options emerged: Donate the money back to the city's general fund since an elected official's salary can't be decreased by law during their term, donate the money to individual charities or have Council donate the money to a common charity.
Tasco noted that the total amount for all of the Council raises is $85,000. She likes the idea of picking a charity herself since money donated to the city's general fund can't be designated for particular purposes. "At $85,000, it tends to get lost in the sauce," Tasco said. "You never know where it's going to."
[Actually, according to figures released by Verna's office after the meeting, the Council raises total $100,463.]
Councilman Frank DiCicco noted that he and his colleagues have to find a way to give back the money without being taxed as if they received it. "I don't want to take it," DiCicco said of the raise. "I have to figure out how to not take it and not be penalized for it."
One topic not up for discussion today: Changing the 2003 law that guarantees the COLA raises for Council. "We're not talking about that," Tasco said. "It didn't come up."