Detroit city council takes no action, gets more pay

The Detroit City Council will get a 2.5% increase in pay next year because it did nothing Tuesday.

There's no need to adjust your set, because you heard me right: They will get more dough because they did nothing.

"There's no good time to ask for a pay raise," said councilman Gabe Leland, District 7. 

Here's the deal - The Detroit Elected Officials Compensation Board decided to increase City Council's pay by 2.5 percent. 

The only thing that could stop the deal was if the council voted within 30 days to reject the money. Tuesday was the last day to do that, and they didn't reject it. 

They didn't even take up the vote. But not everyone will take that extra money.

"Sometimes the residents of the City of Detroit just want their elected officials to feel like we're in this together," said Mary Sheffield, councilwoman, District 5. "And for me it's for standing in solidarity with the retirees. And if I had been presented with the opportunity. I would have voted no at this time."

"I personally want to show my support for the pensioners," Leland said. "They are the only group, the only interest group, that came to me and said, 'We do not want you to take this pay at this time.' And I said, "You know what, I'm going to donate my pay to the pensioners health care fund."

"I  recognize that many residents and retirees and employees are going through financial hardship," said Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, councilwoman, District 6. "And, in solidarity to show my support of them in this difficult time, I'll be donating whatever that percentage is to a charity or to a school, I haven't identified to who yet."

In additional to their salary, city council members get a budget for staff and they get a free city car - even Scott Benson. He still has his car, even though he hasn't been using it since he got caught drunk driving.

Councilman James Tate from District 1 says he'll take the money because it's just a drop in the city's budget bucket.

"I think we need to put this in context," he said. "We're talking about $18,000 total out of a billion-dollar budget. And so if we were talking about $18,000 per council member, I would really understand angst from certain individuals. 

"But we're talking about a potential ($2,000). And while that's not small and I appreciate and I'm thankful, I work for it. This is a job and I take it very, very, seriously."

I tried to ask City Council President Brenda Jones about this, but I got the runaround.

So I waited, double-checked, but the council president never came out. 

Now, I should note that while council members will get more money, they are still making less than they did before their pay was cut several years ago.

So they hope you at home understand they're not getting a raise so much as what they call a partial restoration. 

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