D.C. o∞cials could get a $20,000 pay bump

The Washington Post - - METRO - BY FENIT NIRAPPIL

The top three elected of­fi­cials in the Dis­trict would get $20,000 raises next year — their first pay in­crease in more than a decade — un­der new leg­is­la­tion set to be in­tro­duced.

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) would see her salary go up to $220,000, while D.C. Coun­cil Chair­man Phil Men­del­son (D) and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Karl A. Racine (D) would make $210,000.

All are up for re­elec­tion in Novem­ber with­out se­ri­ous chal­lengers. The pay raises would take ef­fect in Jan­uary.

The mayor is al­ready the eighth-high­est-paid chief ex­ec­u­tive of a big city, ac­cord­ing to Men­del­son’s of­fice.

Men­del­son said that he is lead­ing the ef­fort to in­crease pay now be­cause the mayor’s salary has re­mained the same since 2007, and be­cause Dis­trict law pre­vents may­oral pay in­creases from tak­ing ef­fect dur­ing a mayor’s cur­rent term. That means a city coun-

cil could only vote for an in­crease for the next mayor.

If no in­crease is ap­proved dur­ing this elec­tion cy­cle, the next op­por­tu­nity to raise the mayor’s salary would be for the 2023 in­au­gu­ra­tion. The salaries of the coun­cil chair­man and at­tor­ney gen­eral are au­to­mat­i­cally set by law to be $10,000 below the mayor’s salary.

“It’s over­due,” Men­del­son said of the pay in­creases. “But they won’t be as much as they would have been if they were tied to in­fla­tion.”

Men­del­son said he told Bowser but not Racine about the forth­com­ing leg­is­la­tion, which will be for­mally in­tro­duced by Coun­cil mem­ber Jack Evans (D-Ward 2). The mayor and at­tor­ney gen­eral did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

The leg­is­la­tion would make the D.C. mayor the fifth-high­est paid — she would earn more than the chief ex­ec­u­tives of big­ger cities, in­clud­ing Chicago, Philadel­phia and Phoenix.

Be­cause of the Dis­trict’s unique sta­tus, the city gov­ern­ment also per­forms many of the func­tions of a state and county gov­ern­ment.

In 2006, then-Mayor An­thony Wil­liams (D) pro­posed in­creas­ing his of­fice’s salary for his suc­ces­sor. The pay rose from about $152,000 to $200,000 when Adrian Fenty was sworn into of­fice in Jan­uary 2007.

Men­del­son said he couldn’t re­call if he con­sid­ered pay in­creases be­fore 2015, when the cur­rent of­fice­hold­ers were sworn in. But he said the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment was far dif­fer­ent then.

“We were fresh out of the scan­dals,” said Men­del­son, re­fer­ring to the fraud con­vic­tion of Kwame Brown, the previous coun­cil chair­man, in 2012 and a fed­eral probe into then-Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray (D), who never was charged and now rep­re­sents Ward 7 on the D.C. Coun­cil. “And there’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween a eight-year lapse and a 12-year lapse.”

Men­del­son ac­knowl­edged the neg­a­tive per­cep­tion of in­creas­ing the pay of elected of­fi­cials in a city with yawn­ing in­come in­equal­ity, but he said de­trac­tors should look at it dif­fer­ently.

The other 12 coun­cil mem­bers get au­to­matic pay raises, and rank-and-file Dis­trict gov­ern­ment work­ers have seen their salaries jump even higher since 2007.

“Ten per­cent is quite modest when you look at the growth of gov­ern­ment salaries and in­fla­tion over the last 12 years,” said Men­del­son, whose of­fice no­ti­fied re­porters about the bill Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Dozens of non­elected po­si­tions in the Dis­trict pay more than the mayor, in­clud­ing city ad­min­is­tra­tor ($295,000) and chan­cel­lor of D.C. Pub­lic Schools, who makes $250,000.

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