D.C. Council in Line to Get Automatic Raises

Members of the D.C. Council are in line to get $3,600 cost-of-living raises this year, but the automatic increase during serious budget cuts is causing some members to rethink the raise.

The 3 percent automatic raise would come on top of the council salary of $125,000. Chairman Kwame Brown earns $190,000 a year, so his raise would be higher.

However, the chairman told News4 that he's already signed a waiver to forgo the raise. He said it "wouldn't be appropriate" given the city's budget issues.

"I think that when our employees aren't getting a raise or getting a cost-of-living increase, then we shouldn't either," Brown said.

Several other council members agreed. Council member Mary Cheh filled out the paperwork to waive her raise.

"The law provides for automatic inflation adjustment," Council member Phil Mendelson said. "We've put it off several years. My sense is this isn't the right timing for it."

But Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells, who passed on a similar raise last year, says he will accept this one. He noted that he does not earn tens of thousands of dollars in outside income like many other council members do.

"I'm not going to play that game," Wells said. (Chairman Brown, by law, cannot earn outside income but other members can.)

"I work too hard not to get what it is that's due me," Council member Marion Barry said.

Council member Muriel Bowser said she'll think about.

"I didn't take my COLA for the last two years," she said.

Regular city government workers have not received raises in several years. But there is one bright spot for them. The city had imposed four unpaid furlough days on the employees this year, but the council is moving to eliminate those unpaid days because of an uptick in city revenues.

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