Council drops controller’s raise due to charter change hurdle

A local law that would change the city’s charter to allow mid-term salary increases for the mayor, controller and council members was withdrawn from the agenda by it’s sponsor, Alderman Jim Martuscello at Tuesday’s meeting. Currently, chapter 15 of the city’s charter reads:

The compensation of the Mayor, the Controller and the Aldermen shall be fixed by local law, except as otherwise provided in this Charter, and any increase or decrease shall become effective only at the start of the term of office next succeeding that in which it was enacted. The salaries and compensation of employees of the City and of the appointive officers shall be fixed by the Common Council.

The proposed change would have removed the language requiring any raise to start only at the beginning of the next term of each position. Without the change, a $10,000 raise for Controller Matt Agresta included in Mayor Michael Villa’s proposed budget cannot go through. Agresta said recently that he did not request the raise, however Villa said the raise was necessary for the salary to remain competitive.

Martuscello cited Agresta, who was also present at the meeting, who said that according to representatives of the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), a referendum is required to make the charter change.

Corporation Counsel William Lorman said he agreed the controller’s salary could not be changed mid-term, but said he did not necessarily agree with NYCOM that a referendum would allow it either.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for May 9, 6pm at City Hall. After the hearing, the Common Council plans to hold a special meeting to vote on their changes to the budget. After that, the mayor may submit line-item vetoes to the changes which would require a two-thirds majority vote on the council to override.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.