D.C. Council members yesterday sharply criticized Mayor Marion Barry's budget request for 13 new staff positions, mostly for constitutent services, and questioned the salaries and status of some of his top officials.

Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), noting that each council member provides constituent services on a $25,000 budget, said she was concerned that Barry was requesting salaries of $30,000 and above for persons handling similar responsibilities.

Herbert O. Reid Sr., the legal counsel to the mayor who said yesterday he has been Barry's acting staff director for three months, told the council's Committee on Government Operations that the 13 new positions at a cost of $638,000 next year are needed "to provide for an increased demand for services" from the mayor's office.

He said the new positions are needed to staff a city hall van and to serve the growing Asian community, juveniles and the poor. Reid also said certain offices of the mayor, including what was formerly known as community services headed by Anita Bonds, had been realigned.

Reid said he had been advised that the council had complained in the past that the mayor had not indicated his "real" staffing plan and that "positions were hidden or mysteriously funded through indirect cost revenues allotted to the mayor's office." But he said the mayor is requesting that slots financed through indirect costs be converted to appropriated positions "for all the council to see."

Council member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large), who heads the Committee on Government Operations that oversees the mayor's budget, said the reorganization of staff and the request for new positions presented "a confusing picture" in which it was unclear how much employees were being paid and where the funds were coming from.

Kane said a payroll document shows Reid is paid $31,000 in his position.

However, George Thomas, a controller in the mayor's office, said $33,000 had been allotted in the mayor's budget for Reid, who works part time and is paid at the daily rate of $196.

Kane then asked Thomas, who was brought in a year ago to straighten out Barry's official expense records, if he was still part of the mayor's office since he was not listed as such in a written answer to the council from the Barry administation.

Reid said Thomas is assigned to the mayor's office until Feb. 29.

Reid said the selection of staff positions and their qualifications "are matters within {the mayor's} sole discretion, just as the selection of staff by individual council members are within each member's discretion."

Reid added that the mayor respects the council prerogatives in hiring and "he expects that the council will respect his request to hire staff in the number that he deems adequate."

Kane asked the justification for paying $76,000 to former social service commissioner Audrey Rowe, who is an assistant to the mayor. She said that salary is usually reserved for agency heads.

Reid said the mayor made the decision on Rowe's salary.

Kane also questioned the exact salary for Sallie Melendez, a special assistant who generated controversy after she was unexpectedly hired away from a public relations job in Oakland to work for Barry.

Kane said payroll records show Melendez earning $63,000 a year. Reid said Melendez is paid $56,000.