Council wants to give back raise, but how?

Marian Tasco wants to give her COLA to a private charity

The total amount for increases for all 17 members comes to $100,463. 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 more.

Council President Anna Verna declined to comment after meeting with eight of her colleagues, but said through a spokesman that they reached consensus on not keeping the raise. No final decision has been made because the Council members are debating what to do next.

Three scenarios emerged from the meeting. Council could donate the raises to the city's general fund since an elected official's salary can't be decreased during his term. Council members could donate the money to a favorite charity. Or Council could donate the money to one charity.

Council Majority Leader Marian Tasco said that she likes the individual charity option because money donated to the general fund "tends to get lost in the sauce." That money can't be targeted for one project or cause, she said.

"You never know where it's going to go," Tasco said.

Reporters were barred from entering the meeting despite the presence of a Council quorum, Tasco said, because the pay raise discussion is a "personal issue."

Council members must determine how to deal with the tax implications of the raise, since their salaries will reflect a 5.13 percent increase even if they give it up.

"I don't want to take it," Councilman Frank DiCicco said. "I have to figure out how to not take it and not be penalized for it."