Watch CBS News

Failure To Follow Home Rule Charter On Council's Pay Raise Could Lead To Citizen Lawsuits, Says City Controller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - In late December Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously to raise their pay from $72,000 to $88,000, a $16,00 pay hike.

City council president Theresa Kail-Smith defends the pay raise.

"Council has not received a significant pay raise in nearly 20 years," she told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

But city controller Michael Lamb, who criticized the secrecy under which this pay raise was approved without public debate or discussion at council, says a 22 percent pay raise appears to violate the city's home rule charter.

Article 3, Section 310 (h) reads, in part, "No elected city official shall receive a salary increase that exceed the average percentage of increase in salaries and wages paid to all city employees as based on the previous year's salary."

"Now we have, in addition to the problem of lack of transparency, now we got a legal issue," says Lamb.

Ask the city's police officers on the streets, or those clearing snow and ice at Public Works, or fighting fires in the neighborhoods, or anyone who works for the city of Pittsburgh.

Delano: "Have city employees received a 22 percent pay in their pay last year?"

Lamb: "Of course not. Of course not. The average increase last year was somewhere around 3 percent."

WATCH: KDKA's Jon Delano reports

Lamb says even if you broadly interpret salaries and wages to include other benefits, it hardly adds up to council's 22 percent pay hike.

"I think council really needs to explain how they are able to get this increase given this provision of the home rule charter," says the city controller.

Lamb says any Pittsburgh resident unhappy with the council's pay raise could go to court.

"This very likely could end up in a legal battle between the citizens and council over this violation of the home rule charter," Lamb predicts.

It may be that an open courtroom may be the only place to find out exactly what happened in this pay raise saga.

While not all council members are happy about the process, it's not yet clear whether council will reconsider this action next week.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.