Tight budget aside, there's still room for raises

City Hall belt-tightening didn't prevent two Council members from recently handing out raises to their staffers.

Councilman Bill Green this month gave raises to five of his staffers, including a $30,000 bump to chief of staff Sophie Bryan, bringing her salary to $100,000.

In total, Green increased salaries by $42,500 and is now paying $354,720 for his seven-member office, according to city data.

Green stressed that Bryan, a Harvard-educated attorney, was underpaid.

"I have a very productive and hardworking Council staff," Green said. "Frankly, my chief of staff is overqualified for her position and I needed to pay people appropriately based on their value to City Council and my office."

In May, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez gave small raises to six staffers and increased the hourly rate for two part-timers, for a total of at least $15,500 more in payroll costs. Her 12-person office now costs $396,300.

Quinones-Sanchez did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment.

Even with the increases, Green and Quinones-Sanchez - who are in their first terms - do not spend as much on staffers as some of the more senior members. Councilwoman Marian Tasco has a payroll of $593,699 and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell spends $526,070 on her staff. And, the cost of the raises is within Council's allocated budget for this fiscal year.

"We start out with budgets that are far behind our senior colleagues and we haven't come close to catching up," said Green.

"But to be competitive with other offices and the administration, I need to pay my people appropriately."