Chelsa Wagner's Pay Raise, House Resignation Discussed
Wagner's spokesman, Lou Takacs, takes questions.
Effective Jan. 16, Wagner—who was temporarily serving as both Allegheny County Controller and as a state representative—is no longer a state rep and will hold only the position of controller. Wagner collected only her legislative salary while serving in both positions, and—as of Monday—will only collect her county salary.
The resignation, as well as her acceptance of a more-than-$20,000 pay raise of her county salary, raised questions among constituents about Wagner's pay and about which state representative to turn to in her absence.
Lou Takacs, a spokesman for the controller's office, said that the pay raise is a cost-of-living increase that has been discussed for some time. Takacs said that a cost-of-living adjustment was approved for all row officers in 1999, but since no one claimed it, pay was not raised at that rate. Allegheny County row offices include the positions of controller, district attorney, sheriff and treasurer.
“Over 12 years, the cost of living has increased greatly,” Takacs said. “Basically, it brings the controller and treasurer salaries more in line with the other row officers—specifically, the district attorney—but is in fact still lower than those (salaries).”
Takacs said that discussions about the salaries for those positions were happening before Wagner became controller.
“Certainly, we acknowledge it's a big increase,” Takacs said. “It's our understanding that county council is looking into it, and that's their prerogative to do so.”
As for Wagner's resignation, Takacs said that Wagner felt comfortable that the proper arrangements had been made to oversee the state's 22nd Legislative District. Five state representatives are taking over parts of the district, which is moving to the eastern part of the state.
The 22nd District currently includes the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Brookline, Beechview, Mount Washington, Duquesne Heights, Overbrook, Manchester, Sheraden and Esplen, as well as Baldwin Township, Castle Shannon Borough and Whitehall Borough.
“It's definitely going to be confusing for people,” Takacs said. “The way the districts were drawn under this plan is, frankly, really unfair. We have neighborhoods split into two or three pieces, which is just really disappointing.”
He said that it's not ideal but that Wagner is satisfied that the state representatives taking over the area will provide the services needed and make sure that everyone is prepared for the change.
The offices will be managed generally by the state House Democratic Caucus. Takacs said that no daily services provided by the offices would be affected and that he expected the situation to last as is for a few weeks.
This article originally appeared on the Dormont-Brookline Patch.
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