Nutter and most of Philly Council refuse cost-of-living pay raises

Mayor Nutter will make $170,935.
Mayor Nutter will make $170,935.
Posted: June 30, 2011

After a bruising budget season that ended for a second straight year with a property-tax increase, Mayor Nutter and a majority of Council members are refusing the annual cost-of-living pay bump they are eligible to receive.

Nutter, who has slashed his salary in some form each year since the fiscal crisis of 2008, again is leading the pack in austerity.

He not only refused the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, but will cut his salary by 10 percent and take two weeks of furlough, said budget director Rebecca Rhynhart.

That makes his effective salary $170,935, and leaves him on track to give back more of his pay than any other local elected official.

Rhynhart said Nutter's top aides, including cabinet members and department commissioners, also would not be receiving cost-of-living increases.

Of Council's 17 members, 10 refused the COLA or agreed to donate the money to charity. Five are keeping the money and three did not specify their wishes by the 5 p.m. Wednesday deadline set by President Anna C. Verna's office.

The COLA results from legislation in 2003 that provided for elected officials - including the city controller, sheriff, city commissioners and register of wills - to receive annual cost-of-living increases based on the rate of inflation, or the yearly rise in the consumer price index.

This is the first time in two years that elected officials would receive a COLA, since the consumer price index in Philadelphia in June 2009 was below zero.

This year it is 1.9 percent. For most Council members, that would translate into a raise of about $2,300.

With the COLA, the members would be eligible for a salary of $120,232, up from $117,991 last year. (Salaries are slightly higher for the five members of Council leadership.)

However, those figures are not reflective of their actual take-home pay. Last year, a majority of Council members gave back more than $100 of each paycheck.

Elected officials had to decide by Wednesday if they wanted to accept the COLA because the new fiscal year starts Friday and their next biweekly paychecks will reflect the raise.

The three Council members who did not respond to Verna's office by the deadline - Jack Kelly, Joan L. Krajewski, and Curtis Jones Jr., whose father died Wednesday - will get the raise in their next paychecks. They can give the money back retroactively.

Four Council members accepted the money - Blondell Reynolds Brown, Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Frank Rizzo, and Frank DiCicco.

Kelly, Krajewski, Rizzo, and DiCicco are among the six Council members who are leaving office.

Eight members agreed to return their COLA's to the general fund, the money controlled by the mayor and used to pay police salaries, keep libraries and swimming pools open, fill potholes and pay for other basic city services: Darrell L. Clarke; W. Wilson Goode Jr.; William K. Greenlee; Jim Kenney; Donna Reed Miller; Brian O'Neill; Jannie L. Blackwell; and Verna.

That means the general fund will grow by about $17,000.

O'Neill agreed to return only the posttax portion of his cost-of-living increase. The others are, effectively, taking a slight pay cut, since they have to pay taxes on the COLA even if they return the money.

Marian B. Tasco redirected her COLA to the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, as she has in the past. Bill Green is donating his COLA to Catholic Charities.

Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 215-854-2730,, or @troyjgraham on Twitter.


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