Print

Council approves maximum pay hikes

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council approved last week the maximum hike allowed by law in their monthly stipend. The vote was 3-2, with Councilman Bob Whalen and Mayor Pro Tem Rob Zur Schmiede opposed to the ten percent increase (five percent increase for each of past two years).

Members of the Design Review Board, Arts and Planning Commissions also got a pay increase, retroactive to July 1, approved by a resolution. The council will have to wait until after the November election for their increase to become effective per the ordinance introduced at the meeting. A second reading is required for passage.

Resident Michael Morris said the proposed increase for council members was not commensurate with the time they spend on City business, merely symbolic and not a measure of the council’s worth and perhaps should be waived. 

“The number of hours you put into public service is immense,” said Morris. “I don’t think the increases are meaningful. I would suggest given that the city’s voters are going to be asked to increase taxes on themselves in November, perhaps the council – but not the commissions or board – just forgo an increase.” 

Three options considered

City staff provided three options for the council to consider. 

--Increase compensation by the growth in the Consumer Price Index over the past 30 months, 7.7 percent

--Match the increases to the salary increases given employees over the past three years, 3.5 percent in January of 2016 and 3 percent in in July of 2017 and 2018

--Increase the compensation by 5 percent annually (10 percent total), the maximum amount allowed council members by government code

Whalen and Zur Schmiede favored an increase that would mirror the three percent annual increases for city employees.

A fourth option not included in staff recommendations could have increased the compensation for board and commission members, but not for the council. 

The approved increases raise the council member’s salary from $826 a month to $908 a month. Planning Commissioners’ and Design Review Board members’ monthly compensation will be raised from $357 to $392. The eight Arts Commissioners will see their checks go up from $125 to $137 a month.

The cost of the increases is covered by the $12,900 appropriation approved by the council in June.

A hike in pay was proposed by Councilwoman Toni Iseman, who said she spends most of her stipend meeting with the public.

Council members also are reimbursed for expenses incurred in travel on behalf of the city; are given a flat amount to compensate for cell phone bills; and the City pays the dues for memberships in organizations that benefit the city.