Yale Daily News

Mayor Toni Harp may have a raise coming her way, according to mayoral spokesman Laurence Grotheer.

Next Monday, the Board of Alders’ Finance Committee will discuss in a public hearing whether to boost the mayor’s salary by $10,000. If approved, the raise would bring Harp’s total annual salary to $141,000. New Haven’s Department of Human Resources Director Stephen Librandi made the request in a Nov. 16 letter to Board of Alders President and Ward 23 Alder Tyisha Walker. The raise would increase Harp’s annual salary for the entirety of her third term, which begins in January.

“The increase being sought for the calendar years of 2018 and 2019 will ensure that the New Haven Mayor’s salary is comparable to the salary paid to the Mayors in similarly sized Connecticut cities,” Librandi said in the letter.

Grotheer was clear that Librandi, not Harp, made the request. He also noted that the city has not adjusted the mayor’s compensation in ten years. Compared to other big cities in Connecticut such as Bridgeport, Hartford and Stamford, the mayor earns relatively little, Grotheer said.

Even with the raise, Harp would earn less than the mayors in Bridgeport, Hartford and Stamford, whose largest mayoral salary is approximately $170,000, Grotheer added.

John DeStefano, former mayor of New Haven, said that though he has a “personal attachment” to this issue, the raise is not a major concern.

“I think the job and the mayor deserve that level of compensation,” DeStefano said.

Even within New Haven government, DeStefano added, the raised value would not be a “pacesetter.” The new salary would be lower than those of New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell ’95 DIV ’09, Public Health Director Byron Kennedy SPH ’01 and Corporation Counsel John Rose, who all earn more than $141,000 under the current city budget.

Arguing that the raise would be both appropriate and fair, DeStefano also noted that voters spoke to the issue of how it will be received by re-electing the mayor.

“Whether you agree or you disagree with the job she is doing, the vast majority of New Haveners voted to support,” DeStefano said. “And frankly none of the political organizations mounted a meaningful opposition to her candidacy. People think she is doing a good job.”

Arlene DePino, who served as a Republican Ward 18 alder for more than a decade, also praised the mayor and said the raise is appropriate. DePino noted that the mayor’s salary should be “in line” with those of the other big city mayors, and said Harp is doing a “good job.”

“I would be voting in favor of that if I were on the board,” she said.

In a Timothy Dwight College tea last week, Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison agreed with both DePino and DeStefano, saying that the mayor still needs her “resources” to be able to live her life in an economy with rising costs.

“Would you be in a job for four years and never get a raise?” Morrison asked the audience.

But Ward 7 alder-elect Abigail Roth ’90 LAW ’94 disagreed, pointing out that Mayor Harp “chose to run for office.”

Grotheer noted that the timing of the request is such that, should it be approved, it will go into effect in January, which is why the proposal was submitted in late November.

Regardless of whether or not the raise is approved, Grotheer said the mayor hopes to not only work with the new Superintendent of New Haven Public Schools Carol Birks to “improve reading in particular across all grade levels” but also to “zero in on domestic violence as a source of violent crime” as she begins her third term.

A New Haven alder receives an annual salary of $2,000.

Ashna Gupta | ashna.gupta@yale.edu