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Portland city councilors, mayor, administrators get 1.5% pay hikes

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Portland city councilors, mayor, administrators get 1.5% pay hikes

PORTLAND — City councilors voted unanimously Monday night to give themselves a 1.5 percent raise.

Mayor Michael Brennan, City Manager Mark Rees and City Clerk Katherine Jones also will receive the salary bump.

Councilors, who now receive a stipend of $5,600, will see that amount increase by $84 a year. Brennan, whose current salary is $65,400, will receive an additional $981.

The raises for non-union city employees, totaling about $150,000, were included in the current fiscal year budget, which took effect July 1. The city had delayed giving the raises until it reworked its pay classification system, but they will be retroactive to July 1, Rees  said.

Some people attending Monday's meeting felt the extra cash is inappropriate at a time when many Portland residents are struggling financially.

Elizabeth Road resident Benjamin Roberts called on the council to forgo the increase, if only as a demonstration of support. "That would show the council is doing everything it can," he said.

Others objected to the council's voting on its own pay, a power that is established by the City Charter.

"There is an inherent moral hazard in this vote," said Kevin Casey, a State Street resident who ran unsuccessfully this fall to represent District 118 in the Maine House of Representatives.

Councilor David Marshall said the increase is in line with the federal cost-of-living adjustment of 2.33 percent and also with increases for unionized city employees.

"(The raise) is consistent with every union agreement we've negotiated," Marshall said.

That seemed to be true, at least based on a collective bargaining agreement also approved by the council Monday.

The council unanimously OK'd a two-year agreement with the union representing the city's senior police officers. The agreement will increase their 2012 base wages by 1 percent, and 1.5 percent for 2013. The total cost of the increase is just over $51,000, according to a city memo.

In other business, the council approved the hiring of Jerome LaMoria as Portland Fire Chief.

LaMoria is a 25-year firefighting veteran from Prince George's County, Md. He was selected after a national search that drew 55 applicants to replace Frederick LaMontagne, who retired in April.

Rees announced LaMoria's selection two weeks ago, but the hiring required council approval.

LaMoria will earn an annual salary of $95,000, and will be eligible for a $5,000 raise after six months. He starts work Jan. 3, 2013.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.