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Baltimore City Council defends pay increases Only 1 dissenter present at hearing on proposal to raise officials' salaries


Hoping to defend the proposed 24 percent raise for all elected officials, the Baltimore City Council yesterday came bearing extensive figures, charts, national comparisons and just a touch of indignation that all the documentation was even necessary. Apparently it wasn't.

A public hearing yesterday morning to let the public weigh in on a proposed 24 percent raise -- a bill thought to be so inflammatory that it was scheduled for two days after the election -- was met with nonchalance from Baltimoreans.

One dissenter showed up. Jack T. Nolan said he was stunned over the council's proposed action. "I hardly think that now is the time to increase the cost of government," said the longtime activist.

The proposal would increase council salaries from $29,000 to $36,000. The salary of the mayor would go from $60,000 to $80,000, raising it by 33 percent, and of the council president and comptroller would go from $53,000 to $65,000, a 22 percent increase.

The council can raise elected officials' salaries only every four years, and raises can only go into effect for the next elected council. To take effect, the proposal must be approved by the council and signed by the mayor before Dec. 4, the last day of this four-year council term.

Two others thought the 24 percent wasn't enough.

Julius Henson, campaign manager for comptroller-elect Joan M. Pratt, said that he was offended the comptroller wouldn't get a big enough raise.

Councilman Martin E. "Mike" Curran from the 3rd District compared the elected officials' salaries to those of Baltimore-based public businessmen.

The president of the development firm of Rouse Co., "Matt DeVito is paid $4 million," he said.

"They don't work any harder than I do," veteran 5th District Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector chimed in. She also supports the proposed raises.

Vera P. Hall, the outgoing 5th District councilwoman and incoming council liaison for the mayor, thought her boss Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke still wouldn't get paid enough. "In fact, I thought the pay was too low for other offices," said Mrs. Hall.

Fourth District Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, who has the support of the mayor for City Council vice president, agreed. She suggested $100,000 for the mayor. She also thought that the pay for the comptroller and the president perhaps should be less.

Third District Councilman Martin O'Malley was the only official opposing the raises. But when asked if he would take the money anyway, he said, "Yes, I absolutely would."

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