MARTIN E. "MIKE" CURRAN, who is retiring after 19 years in the City Council, has performed one last public service. He has introduced a bill that would grant salary increases for the mayor, council president, comptroller and all the 18 council members.
Last year, a commission spent six months reviewing those salaries and made a similar recommendation. But politicians, scared of their re-election prospects if they voted increases for themselves, shelved the proposal.
The commission urged that the mayor's salary be hiked from $60,000 to $100,000, the council vice president's salary from $30,500 to $40,000 and other council members' pay from $29,000 to $35,000. However, the comptroller and council president, who made $53,000 a year, would have gotten only a $2,000 raise under the proposal.
Mr. Curran's bill would set the mayor's salary at $80,000 and raise the comptroller's and council president's pay to $65,000. The council vice president's salary would increase to $38,000 a year and the remaining council members' pay to $36,000.
In comparison, Baltimore County, a jurisdiction of comparable population, pays its executive $90,000 a year and its seven council members each $30,900.
We are particularly adamant about the need to raise the mayor's and city comptroller's salaries. The former is woefully underpaid, considering the immense powers and responsibilities the mayor has. As for the latter, the comptroller must be so adequately compensated that the office's holder is freed from a need for outside employment and possibilities for a conflict of interest.
The council members' need for a major salary upgrading is more arguable because many of those officials hold outside jobs anyway.
Taxpayers can address these issues at a 10 a.m. hearing Nov. 9 at City Hall.
Unless the council acts on salary increases before its current members' terms expire Dec. 4, the question will become moot for another four years. We urge the council to exercise its responsibility and create a salary structure that will encourage the best and brightest to seek Baltimore's top elective offices.