The Detroit Elected Officials Compensation Commission said that City Council needs a raise. Last night the commission solidly passed a resolution supporting a 2.5 percent raise, which will go into effect in July of 2016.
As the city grapples with being a few months removed from its historic bankruptcy, Detroit retirees vehemently opposed an increase until their pensions are returned to pre-bankruptcy levels. Many felt that a raise for the city’s elected officials – was a slap in the face to the many men and women who served and sacrificed for the city. Last night, Sylvester Davis, a water department retiree, voiced his feelings before the commission.
“I put in long hours, didn’t see my kids sometimes for four days, five days,” Davis said. “I put in my time. Served the city well, [I] intended to be the best and I was the best that we had.”
The commission’s recommendation will take effect unless it is rejected by the City Council by a two-thirds vote. Approval looks like a mere formality.
“Our heart goes out to every citizen of Detroit that has suffered,” said Commission Chairman Buzz Thomas III to the Detroit Free Press. “No one feels good about seemingly choosing a winner and a loser. All we could do at the end of the day is what we were empowered to do, which is actually act on the salaries of the elected officials. If I had a magic wand and a lot of money, I’d certainly love to make every pensioner and retiree of the city whole, and really thank them for lifetimes of service.”
Detroit’s elected officials were paid on average 43 percent below their counterparts in Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and other cities. While the city has formally exited bankruptcy, it will remain under the supervision of a state-appointed financial review commission until 2019.
Thomas said the commission did take into account the feelings of the city’s retired workers, however, the overall responsibility of the commission was to look at the pay of elected officials and whether they were paid accordingly.
“We thought that it was really important to follow the budget that was coming out of bankruptcy,” Thomas said to reporters last night.
Zack Burgess is an award winning journalist. He is the Director/Owner of OFF WOODWARD MEDIA, LLC, where he works as a writer, editor and communications specialist. His work can be seen at zackburgess.com. Twitter: @zackburgess1