Earlier this week, the Denver City Council voted to give itself a whopping 10.3% raise. Soon after, we informed our boss that we decided that we also would be getting a raise. It’s funny, our boss didn’t agree and was, unbelievably, offended. We suspect that Denverites might feel the same about the City Council’s bold move.
We reported on this issue when it first arose back in January and pointed out that a pay increase of 6.6% for elected officials in Denver just went into effect last year and the average inflation in Denver was just 9.6% over the past three years. Denver City Councilmembers, essentially, are nearly doubling the rate of inflation (16.9% in raises vs. the 9.3% in inflation). Of course, the average per capita income in Denver is just $52,110, putting the new salaries ($87,623 for members and $98,122 for the President) of Denver City Councilmembers at nearly double the average income of the people they represent. That’s to say nothing of the rumored massive expense accounts they have.
At least one City Councilmember, Jeanne Faatz, tried to infuse some common sense into the proceedings. As a last ditch effort, she proposed an amendment that would have sent this proposal to a vote of the people. Here’s what The Denver Post reported:
“‘I believe voters ought to decide if that is a wise decision,’ Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz said. Her amendment would have required asking voters in the May 5 municipal election — when all council seats and other city offices are on the ballot — to ratify the salary increases or reject them.”
Sounds like a solid idea. Too bad it was defeated with just one additional member, Susan Shepherd, voting for Faatz’s measure. What is the Denver City Council so afraid of? That the lowly voters who earn a fraction of what the City Council would propose to earn would vote no? The voters probably would vote no, and the voters would be justified.