Some College Park residents are upset about a proposed 40 percent raise for the City Council, but the resolution’s sponsor said a pay raise might encourage more people to run for office.
The resolution, which would take effect after the Nov. 5 city election, would increase the mayor’s salary from $7,500 to $10,500 and council members’ salary from $5,000 to $7,000.
Councilman Robert Catlin (Dist. 2) proposed the measure during the council’s Sept. 3 work session, noting that the last time the council had a pay increase was in 2008, when it was increased $600.
“I am totally opposed to it,” said Kennis Termini, a College Park resident of 40 years who serves on several city committees.
Termini said taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for such a big pay increase, and that it was her understanding council members had other jobs.
“If they can’t make it on that [income], then maybe they should look for another line of work,” she said.
The increase is in excess of the 10 percent salary increase tacked onto the Fiscal Year 2014 budget approved by the council last May, when the council raised property taxes 4 percent, to 33.5 cents per $100 for real property and 83.8 cents per $100 for personal property, to help fill a $400,000 budget deficit.
The increase would be $7,125 more than was originally budgeted for mayor and council salaries for the current fiscal year.
Christiane Williams, a College Park resident of 42 years, said a 40 percent increase was too much.
“Two percent, five max,” she said.
Catlin said the council’s salary has not kept up with inflation and that a cost of living increase would total approximately 10 percent.
Phil Aronson, a College Park resident of 34 years, said he was okay with the increase.
“Councilmen and the mayor are active on weekends. They’re at Veterans Day celebrations, other events,” Aronson said. “They do a lot of work, and I don’t have any problem with it.”
Catlin, who said he will not run for re-election after serving eight terms, said he wanted to entice more people to run.
“People don’t want to run for council in my district,” said Catlin, who said he only ran for reelection in 2011 at the last minute because no one else was running and he didn’t wish the seat to be vacant.
“So I figure, why not raise it from $14 a day to $19 a day? Maybe more people will run,” Catlin said. “I don’t think $7,000 will make a huge impact, but it can’t hurt to try.”
The filing deadline in College Park is Friday.
James Peck, director of research and information management for the Maryland Municipal League, said he could not comment on whether College Park’s increase was unusual, as many municipalities go for years without pay increases.
“To the extent that an elected body goes for years between raises for the mayor and council, significant increases are often needed to offset the decreased value of compensation brought on by inflation,” Peck said.
Councilman Fazlul Kabir (Dist. 1) said he is opposed to the pay increase.
“All of the council members, including myself, have full-time jobs, with salaries and benefits. Even the mayor has a full-time job. So if someone is running for the council, it should not be for the money, really,” Kabir said.
A public hearing on the measure will be held Oct. 8, prior to the start of the regular council session.