Members of the D.C. City Council warned yesterday that they will not go along with Mayor Marion Barry's planned cuts in social services unless he provides more justification, and also sharply criticized Barry for giving his top aides large pay bonuses during the city's current financial crisis.
Council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, boycotted a briefing by the mayor's aides on Barry's fiscal 1984 budget, and said in a stinging letter to Barry that he would not support any tax or fee increases unless Barry rescinds the bonuses.
"Cutting programs for the poor and needy while at the same time granting bonuses . . . to District employes already earning over $56,000 a year indicates a serious lack of concern for District residents and a serious misordering of priorities," Wilson wrote.
Barry's office and the offices of several council members were swamped with complaints in response to a report that eight top aides to Barry received awards ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 for their work in 1982. City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers led the list with a $10,000 bonus.
Union officials and city employes also reacted angrily to reports that Barry is considering ways to persuade city unions to accept reductions in their 1984 pay increases, now scheduled to range from 6 to 9 percent. Barry was out of town yesterday, but his press secretary, Annette Samuels, said the mayor "unequivocally" supports the pay increases.
Aides to the mayor provided some new details on the city's troubled financial condition, but refused council requests for updated figures on current spending, which the council members said they needed in assessing the fiscal 1984 budget.
"You've asked this council to bite the bullet," said Council Chairman David A. Clarke. "But you're holding all the ammunition and the mayor is not even coming into the shooting gallery," said Clarke, referring to Barry's refusal to attend the hearing. Barry was in Atlanta yesterday for observance of the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Barry's aides revealed that the city may not be able to earmark $20 million for debt retirement this year as it was ordered to do by Congress.
"Congress stuck it the $20 million in on the assumption we'd have the revenues," said Alphonse G. Hill, deputy mayor for financial management. "They gave us the budget, but not the revenue."
A well-placed congressional source said yesterday that Congress probably would be understanding if the D.C. government found that it couldn't set aside the payment and still balance the 1983 budget.
Gladys W. Mack, a top policy and budget aide to Barry, said for the first time that more than half the 5,500 recipients of aid under the General Assistance Program would lose their benefits while others might qualify for other emergency assistance.
"What the mayor is asking us to do at this point is cut these people off without knowing what we're going to do with them," Clarke said.
Mack also said that if the council approves a series of water rate increases Barry wants, D.C. water bills will have doubled five years from now.
Mack and the other aides, who were criticized several times for giving evasive answers, declined to tell the council whether the mayor plans to save up to $70 million by eliminating temporary employe positions. Clarke said elimination of those positions might save money for the social programs Barry wants to cut.