ATLANTIC CITY — Mayor Lorenzo Langford would be eligible for a $15,874 raise next year under an ordinance that would ensure the city’s top elected official makes more than other civilian employees.
Right now, Langford’s $103,000 base salary ranks 145th of all municipal employees, which includes public safety personnel.
The ordinance, which is on City Council’s agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, calls for the mayor to earn 1 percent more than the best-compensated civilian employee.
For Langford, that means he would earn $118,874, or 1 percent more than Municipal Judge Bruce Ward, who makes $117,697, city payroll shows.
That would be a more than 14 percent increase over his $103,000 base salary.
The ordinance, which cites “budgetary concerns,” says the pay raise wouldn’t apply until January 2013.
If City Council introduces the ordinance, a public hearing and a final vote would follow.
Meanwhile, the city’s budget concerns don’t appear to be going away.
Already, tax appeal settlement agreements with Caesars Entertainment Corp. reduced the resort’s ratable base from $19.5 billion last year to $17.2 billion, a drop of $2.3 billion — or 12 percent.
That reductions were for the Bally’s, Harrah’s, Showboat Casino Hotel and Caesars Atlantic City properties.
Officials are still working on the 2012 budget, which hasn’t even gone public yet — let alone the plan for 2013, when the city would start cutting bigger paychecks to Langford under the proposed law.
At-Large Councilman Frank Gilliam, who is sponsoring the measure, said the mayor’s pay needs to rise to the level of other agency heads in the area.
“I’m not sure why they’re doing the timing (the way they are), but I do know the mayor’s position needs to be made whole,” Gilliam said, deferring further comment until Wednesday’s meeting.
Second Ward Councilman Marty Small attributed the early action to the political campaign cycle.
“You do it now and people won’t have that to say … in January. That’s when things get hot for the mayor’s race,” said Small, who ran against Langford four years ago for the Democratic nomination.
Neither Langford nor City Business Administrator Michael Scott responded Monday to calls or emails seeking comment.
The ordinance provides an explanation for the proposed change — one that echoes reasoning provided in 2004, when City Council agreed to give Langford a 15 percent raise from $82,250 to $95,000, as of January 2005.
The position of mayor’s salary grew by $8,000 — or more than 8 percent — to $103,000 during the next six years. That averages out to $1,333 annually, or yearly raises of more than 1 percent.
The first time around, council members said Langford should be paid more, citing six-figure salaries commanded by other high-ranking city officials
Similarly, the new ordinance explains that heads of other public agencies and similar entities in the resort and surrounding region make more than Langford.
So do 144 workers within City Hall, pay records show.
Langford’s $103,000 base salary ranks 145th of 1,393 municipal employees. Increasing that to $118,874 would make him 27th on the list, below law-enforcement officials. The city fire and police chiefs, three deputy police chiefs, 10 police captains, nine fire battalion chiefs and two fire prevention supervisors would still make more, records show.
Fire Chief Dennis Brooks commands the highest base salary: $177,555. Police Chief Ernest Jubilee follows at $149,562. Deputy Police Chief Henry White makes $141,096; Deputy Fire Chief Robert Palamaro, $136,038; and Deputy Fire Chiefs Vincent Granese and Daniel Tamburilla, $136,034 each, payroll shows.
Those officials have worked between 26 and 39 years for the city. Langford has served as mayor for six years in all. He won elections in 2001, 2008 and 2009 serve two nonconsecutive four-year terms – the second of which is half over – and in between them, one year left in the unexpired term of former Mayor Bob Levy, who left office amid a scandal over his prolonged absence from City Hall.
Small also said he would support the measure
“It’s simple: If you’re the authority, you’re supposed to make more than your subordinates,” Small said.
At-large Councilman Mo Delgado agreed, but said he’s not sure he can vote in favor of any additional spending.
“It’s something I’d have to look into,” Delgado said. “But I’m really not comfortable spending any money, even if it’s not until 2013. We don’t now what the situation is going to be then, either.”
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