Local and state politicians debate pay raises for their positions

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RICHMOND, VA -- The topic has again surfaced regarding the pay of local officials.

On Monday, the State Ethics Commission recommended raising salaries of members of the General Assembly by $15,000 a year. Currently, members make around $18,000 annually.

On Wednesday, a special committee designed to evaluate Richmond City Council salaries met. The Committee, which is costing the city $5000, is determining if $25,000 for a council member is enough.

According to state records, Henrico Supervisors make around $49,000 annually, while Chesterfield Supervisors make around $35,000.

On the street, opinions vary with some Richmonders thinking pay should be evaluated while others believe lawmakers should only increase their pay if they increase the minimum wage.

"It's more about the community and not about their pay I think teachers need to get paid more," Tracy Gilland said.

But State Delegate Jennifer McClellan says paying lawmakers a fair wage is an important discussion. If compensation isn't appropriate for politicians the threat of corruption increases and it could lead to only wealthy people being in elected office.

"I think a lot of people when they run for public office underestimate the impact it will have on their career," McClellan said.

"You need a diversity of viewpoints, a diversity of opinions and you won't get that if only the wealthy are public servants," McClellan added.

While it is unclear when the City Council Committee will make its recommendations, at the General Assembly the pay raise proposal is already being met with resistance.

"The Speaker is not interested and does not believe the House as a whole is interested either," Matt Moran, a spokesman for Speaker William Howell, said.