Mayor’s pay raise gets through board

At its biweekly meeting Monday night, New Haven’s Board of Aldermen quickly defeated a resolution that would have called on Mayor John DeStefano Jr. to forgo the $12,397 raise he began receiving on Jan. 1.

Aldermen Willie Greene and Nathan Joyner asked DeStefano not to take home all of his new $110,000 salary because they said the city is experiencing a budget crunch. Since the two sponsors submitted the resolution for unanimous consent, only one of their 28 colleagues needed to voice his or her objection to defeat the motion.

But when Board of Aldermen President Jorge Perez asked for objections, three aldermen — Lindy Lee Gold, Philip Voigt, and Carl Goldfield — stood up almost immediately.

Voigt said the resolution was unnecessary.

“I don’t understand why they’re calling on the mayor not to accept his pay raise,” Voigt said. “It gives the impression that the city is in dire financial straits.”

New Haven is expected to experience some sort of budget crunch over the course of the next fiscal year. DeStefano has been battling Gov. John G. Rowland and the state Legislature over several large cuts in state aid to the city, and the mayor even called a press conference last month to announce a three-year “stabilization plan” designed to make sure the city does not fall victim to a fiscal crisis.

DeStefano’s plan will allow the city to absorb its drop in revenue from the state through early retirement buyouts and cuts in employee health care benefits.

Defending his proposal, Greene said that he supported the mayor’s pay raise in December but that he now feels DeStefano should not begin drawing it until any possible economic problems have passed.

“It would have sent a very good message that the mayor is supportive of the people he says he leads,” Greene said. “What happened tonight is exactly what I expected to happen. I expected certain members of the mayor’s team to stand up and object to unanimous consent.”

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