D.C. Mayor's Budget Proposal Includes No Pay Raises

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

District workers would receive no pay raises next year under Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's budget proposal, city officials said yesterday.

In addition, residents would face a $51-a-year charge on their electric bills to help maintain streetlights, officials said.

Appearing before the D.C. Council to discuss the budget proposals, Fenty (D) and his aides said they have reduced the city's workforce investment fund, which was $26 million this year, to zero. The move, which left no money for raises, was one of several made to help balance the budget in a year when anticipated revenue has fallen well short of predictions.

Fenty's $5.4 billion spending plan would eliminate 1,632 jobs and require as many as 776 layoffs. In addition to imposing the $51 electricity charge, the budget would raise parking meter fees and fees for licensing businesses and a number of other services.

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) criticized the streetlight fee, calling it a regressive tax that would disproportionately burden poorer residents. City Administrator Dan Tangherlini countered that streetlights benefit all residents in equal measure.

The District government has yet to begin collective bargaining with the labor unions, but Tangherlini said the administration's hands are tied by the budget constraints.

"Yes, that's our proposal -- no pay raises," he said, responding to a question from the council chairman, Vincent C. Gray (D). "The city is not asking for reductions, furloughs or clawbacks, and we're not changing benefits. We just can't afford increases."

Gray said that the administration's relationship with the unions "couldn't be more acrimonious" and that "we have to find a way to get past this." But he and other council members acknowledged that the struggling economy had made balancing the budget a challenge.

"This is one of the most difficult budgets we've had to face in recent history," Gray said.

Messages left for Joslyn Williams, president of the Metro Washington AFL-CIO, were not returned Friday or yesterday.

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