(Globe staff photo by Patricia McDonnell)
Newton Mayor David Cohen announced Wednesday that he won't accept a $27,500 a year raise, but a leading political group nonetheless called on him to announce he will not run for re-election next year.
"This issue has become controversial and a distraction from the important fiscal issues our city is facing,'' Cohen said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. ""I have therefore decided to continue declining a raise in my salary.''
But after he issued the statement, Move Newton Forward, a group backing a proposed $12-million property tax increase in the city, called on Cohen to announce he will not run for re-election. Backers of the increase fear voters may reject the tax hike because they distrust Cohen.
"David Cohen has had a long and distinguished career of public service on behalf of the people of Newton, both on Beacon Hill and in City Hall. However, there is a growing consensus that the Mayor will not be able to attract support for another run in 2009. In the interest of clarifying the critical decision that Newton voters will be asked to make on May 20th, we urge the Mayor to announce that he will not run for re-election in 2009,'' Move Newton Forward said in a statement.
On Tuesday, several local residents and city officials questioned the timing of the raise, because Cohen is asking voters to approve a $12-million property tax increase on May 20. He included the raise in the city budget proposal he released this week.
Aldermen had approved a salary cap to $125,000 in 2005, but Cohen has declined the raise until this year. He currently makes $97,876.