City Officials to Receive Awkward Automatic Raises

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Maybe she'll use her raise to buy another one of these ridiculously large umbrellas.
Maybe she’ll use her raise to buy another one of these ridiculously large umbrellas.

In 2010, an independent body — formed four years earlier by a ballot referendum — decided that Baltimore’s top elected officials would receive automatic pay raises tied to those of city union workers.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, and city council members are set to each receive a 2.5 percent raise, at a total cost of $31,000.

Though years ago we placed this process in the hands of an independent panel for the sole purpose of making the issue of city officials’ salaries less politically suspicious. But it’s always awkward for the mayor to get a raise — even a small one. It reminds us that she makes over $150,000 a year.

The awkwardness only increases from there. In past years, Rawlings-Blake has donated the amount of her raise to charity, out of respect for the difficult economic times so many face. Her spokeswoman said she hasn’t decided yet what she’ll do with this one. But she’s already set the precedent! To decide not to donate this raise to charity would be worse than if she had never done it in the first place.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young has already said he’s donating his raise, which complicates things for others who might just keep theirs.

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful my salary isn’t paid with public money. It’s an etiquette nightmare!


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