If raise approved, mayor’s salary would reach $131K

If a pay raise proposed by the Board of Aldermen’s Finance Committee passes when it is considered by a full board in December, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. will soon be receiving twice the salary he received when he took office in 1994.

The Finance Committee voted 10-1 at a meeting last Tuesday to propose an increase in DeStefano’s yearly salary from $115,000 to $131,010.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr. speaks. His salary has increased at a rate significantly higher than that in similar Conn. cities since 1994.
Mayor John DeStefano Jr. speaks. His salary has increased at a rate significantly higher than that in similar Conn. cities since 1994.

The pay raise, a 13.9 percent increase, would be about one-third less than the mayor’s original request for $25,000, which he submitted two days after being re-elected earlier this month.

With the proposed increase, DeStefano’s salary would continue to grow at a rate significantly greater than that of the salaries of his counterparts in other similar-sized Connecticut cities.

Although many aldermen interviewed said DeStefano was due for an increase, several said the Board needs to determine a systematic process for increasing the mayor’s pay every term to make the process more objective.

Nine of the 11 Connecticut cities with over 25,000 people and reliable mayoral-salary data from both 1994 — the year DeStefano entered office — and 2008 approved pay raises of about 40 percent during these 14 years, with a range of 23 to 50 percent, according to figures reported by the New Haven Independent on Nov. 21 and a 1995 research report written by the Connecticut General Assembly Office of Legislative Research.

The two other cities with populations over 25,000 — New Haven and Bridgeport — had mayoral pay raises much higher than those of the other nine: 101.6 percent and 133.0 percent, respectively.

DeStefano last received an increase in 2003, when his salary jumped from $110,000 to $115,000.

The mayor asked for a salary increase in 2005, but he dropped the request soon after, citing budgetary issues.

On Nov. 8, two days after being elected to an eighth term, DeStefano asked the Board to increase his salary to $140,000 — a 22 percent raise.

Board President and Ward 29 Alderman Carl Goldfield said he thinks the pay raise was a “modest” increase in DeStefano’s salary.

Only one alderman interviewed — Ward 18 alderwoman Arlene DePino — said the raise was too high. DePino, the only Republican on the Board, said residents in her ward were against the raise because it would require increasing taxes, the New Haven Independent reported Nov. 21.

DePino could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

But Ward 25 Alderwoman Ina Silverman ’80 EPH ’83 said the raise would not affect taxes.

“We’re talking about an increase of $16,000,” she said. “That’s not a significant impact.”

Ward 4 Alderwoman Andrea Jackson-Brooks said the two weeks between DeStefano’s request and last week’s meeting was a “short” window to research the increase. When told of the comparative mayoral statistics, Jackson-Brooks said the information is “brand new” to her.

“It’s interesting,” she said. “I don’t know what to say. … We really need to pay more attention to the details.”

But Silverman, vice chair of the Finance Committee, said the numbers are “irrelevant” as long as mayors of similar Connecticut cities receive similar pays.

“If you want to have competitive people trying to run, we should have comparable salaries with other mayors,” she said.

Because the mayor’s job is full time, the Board of Aldermen should “compensate” him for his efforts, Ward 23 Alderman Yusuf Shah said. He said he thinks the raise should have been higher.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Finance Committee voted to set up a more definitive system for increasing the mayor’s pay that several members said would me more “fair.”

The Committee voted to raise the salary 3 percent for each year from 2004 to 2007, in concordance with Union 3144 pay raise standards for city employees. The new protocol was proposed by Ward 5 Alderman Jorge Perez and was based on a letter written a week ago by City Hall Human Resources Director Tina Burgett.

City Hall Spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said City Hall supports the increase because DeStefano had not received a raise in four years.

“[DeStefano] was making significantly lower than [mayors of] other cities,” she said. “He is still making less, but there’s an improvement.”

Finance Committee Chair and Ward 26 Alderman Sergio Rodriguez and other members of the Committee could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

The proposal will be voted on by the entire Board at its Dec. 17 meeting.

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