NCCo Council members agree to 5% pay cut - News Journal
By ANGIE BASIOUNY • The News Journal • June 4, 2009
New Castle County Council members are joining other county employees and reducing their salaries by 5 percent.
Unable to give themselves unilateral pay cuts, council members agreed last month that each lawmaker could decide whether to take a salary reduction in fiscal 2010, which starts July 1.
Council President Paul Clark reported this week that all 13 members volunteered to return 5 percent of their pay directly to the county's general fund or to County Pride, a nonprofit organization that supports county programs.
The salary cut matches the one negotiated for a majority of employees to get control of a burgeoning deficit by slashing spending, increasing property taxes and shrinking personnel costs. Salaries, wages and benefits account for three-fourths of the county's expenses.
"I believe that it is important that we take the same reduction as the employees that we depend upon to operate the government on a day-to-day basis," Clark said. "We must lead by example."
Council salaries are set by an independent commission and raised each year according to the Consumer Price Index, which prevents members from voting to give themselves raises.
It also prevents the council from reducing members' pay.
Based on current salaries -- members make $40,866, the president $44,754 -- the collective cut will put about $27,000 back into county coffers. But the amount is expected to change in August, when the annual CPI-based raise takes effect.
Councilman William Tansey, who gave back his annual raise in the previous fiscal year, supported a mandatory pay cut when the issue came up last month. He said Wednesday he was pleased to see all had volunteered.
"That makes me happy," Tansey said. "I'm glad everybody came on board and recognized that we're in difficult times and it's time to step up to the plate."
The county's four row officers -- Clerk of the Peace Ken Boulden, Recorder of Deeds Michael Kozikowski, Register of Wills Diane Clark Street and Sheriff Michael Walsh -- also are giving themselves 5 percent pay cuts in the coming year.
In December, County Executive Chris Coons and his executive staff took a self-imposed 7 percent pay reduction through unpaid leave.
Coons, whose current salary is $126,141, said he and his staff also will participate in the 5 percent cut for the coming budget year.
"Bringing down the cost of New Castle County's work force is a critical part of solving our long-term financial challenges," he said. "I'm pleased that council and our row officers have joined the more than 900 employees who have agreed so far in the shared sacrifice of giving back."
Nine paramedics-in-training were laid off in April after the union representing them could not come to an agreement about salary cuts.
The administration still is negotiating with the police officers union on concessions or layoffs.
Contact Angie Basiouny at 324-2796 or email@example.com.
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