Members of Roanoke City Council have voted to increase their own pay. A majority supported the raise Monday afternoon, despite objections from two citizens and some members of council.
"What you make in a year's salary I'm living somewhere $9000 dollars below that," said one of three citizens who opposed the increase, "and I am surviving."
City council members were considering an increase of more than 28 percent for themselves, that would bring their salaries to 20-thousand dollars a year. The proposed pay raise for the Mayor was 15 percent, increasing his salary to 23-thousand dollars a year.
Council member David Trinkle proposed a smaller increase as an alternative.
"I do support an increase, because I don't believe we should kick the can further down the road to future councils altogether," Trinkle said, "but I believe the increase should be incremental."
Joining him in opposition were Ray Ferris and Court Rosen.
"I just thought it was appropriate to talk about this more and that we have the discussion at the same time we talk about employee pay," Rosen said in an interview, "and that we tie our pay to theirs."
Following the vote, Mayor David Bowers defended the decision. "I know the public has to scrutinize this and you will, you do," he said, "but again I would say having been around a long time, this was the right decision. We did it for the right reasons and we did it the right way."
The debate isn't over. Because it was a 4 to 3 vote, council members must vote on the pay raise again at their next council meeting later this month.