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Hartford Council Considers Referendum To Repeal Pay Raises

Jenna Carlesso

February 14, 2011

Two years ago, voters narrowly approved an $11,650 salary increase for city council members, from $15,000 a year to $26,650 starting in 2012.

Now they may have the opportunity to rescind those raises.

Prompted by a newly appointed member's decision to decline his $15,000-a-year city salary, some other council members have started discussing whether to seek a referendum to repeal the raises.

The council had voted in favor of a 2008 referendum that let voters decide if they should get a pay increase. The referendum passed, 11,563-10,897.

After Councilman Corey Brinson said Friday that he would decline his city salary, Councilman Jim Boucher sent an e-mail to other council members asking them if they would support a new referendum to reconsider the raises. The referendum would take place in November.

Boucher could not be reached for comment Monday.

Councilman Kenneth Kennedy, who voted against the 2008 referendum, said he supports Boucher's idea.

"My position on this has been very consistent. I thought at the time and still do that we're paid enough," Kennedy said. "Given the budget scenario we're in, [the raises] are completely inappropriate."

Councilman Luis Cotto took it a step further Monday, suggesting that council members work for free beginning in 2012.

Although Cotto supported the raises in 2008, he said the city is in a "vastly different financial situation" now than it was when the raises were approved.

"I think, at the end of the day, what we're doing is putting more disposable income in the pockets of people who honestly don't need it," he said. "It's unfair all around."

Brinson said he's opposed to having an unpaid council.

"Even though I chose to decline my salary, there's nothing wrong with working for the government and being compensated for it," said Brinson, a Republican who was appointed last month. "What having [unpaid positions] does is allow only well-to-do people or retirees who have a pension to serve on the council, and that's not representative of our democracy here in Hartford."

Brinson said a referendum regarding the repeal of raises should wait until November 2012, so that members of next council who are to be elected in November 2011 have a say in their own salaries.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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