The Santa Clarita City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to raise its salary by $103.73 per month, from $1,728.84 to $1,832.57 by July 1, 2014.
The raise would come to average of three percent per year, resulting in a total six percent salary raise, but still in compliance with the state Government Code, which allows only a five percent increase per year.
Councilmember TimBen Boydston voted against the action, citing tough economic times.
“I believe it is the wrong time for elected officials… to be giving themselves a pay raise while we’re still in the middle of a recession,” he said.
Mayor Bob Kellar and Council members Laurene Weste, Marsha McLean and Frank Ferry voted in favor of the raise.
Kellar said that while the city is still recovering from the recession, the economy does seem to be turning around. The council has forgone pay raises in the past because of the difficult economy.
“I have voted ‘no’ on this in times past,” he said.
But he also said that Tuesday’s increase was in keeping with the three percent raise granted to city employees this year.
“I don’t think we have ever exceeded what we have given our employees,” Kellar said.
Boydston was not opposed to the idea of a salary for councilmembers, but felt a raise we inappropriate when “people are still losing their houses” and “living paycheck to paycheck.”
“I also believe that as elected officials, we should take the opportunity to say no to taxes whenever we can,” he said.
Kellar noted that a salary in general and the raise in particular reflects the large amount of time and energy councilmembers spend serving the community, even though their position is technically not full-time.
“This job can take 40-50 hours a week very easily,” he said. “We go seven days a week. I don’t think there’s a councilmember who doesn’t have activities on a daily basis involving this community… It’s an honor to serve…, but I would like to at least keep my head above water, and I think I speak for the other councilmembers when I say that.”
City Council introduce and pass to second reading an ordinance entitled “AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA CLARITA, CALIFORNIA, AMENDING SECTION 2.04.048 OF THE SANTA CLARITA MUNICIPAL CODE REGARDING CITY COUNCIL SALARY.”
Members of the Santa Clarita City Council are paid monthly by the City, under specific provisions of state law, for the substantial amount of time and effort they contribute leading our local government. In addition to participating in regular meetings of the City Council, Members of the City Council represent the City on regional and statewide boards, commissions and organizations; participate in a wide range of community events occurring during the week days, evenings, and weekends; and meet with residents and constituents on a variety of issues important to the City. Furthermore, due to a series of annexations, the size of the City has grown thereby increasing the number of constituents the Council serves.
Government Code 36516 sets forth basic provisions that allow regular adjustments to the City Council salary. Government Code Section 36516.5 requires that City Council salary adjustments be adopted by the present City Council to be effective for future City Councils and provides for Councilmember pay to be increased up to 5% for each calendar year from the operative date of the last adjustment to salary.
In compliance with the Government Code, Councilmember salary has historically been reviewed and adjusted every two years. The last salary adjustment occurred on July 1, 2012, and was a total of 10% for the previous four-year period covering July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2012. That increase averaged 2.5% per year or half as much as what is allowed by state law.
Council salary was most recently reviewed at the regular City Council meeting of June 11, 2013, and Council proposed a total pay increase of six percent (not compounded) for the period July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2014, to be effective on July 1, 2014. This increase would average 3% for each of the two years and is again less than the 5% allowed by Government Code Section 36516.
The proposed monthly adjustment is as follows:
Current salary Proposed salary
Other action as determined by the City Council.
The proposed salary increase of $103.73 per month per Councilmember represents a total annual cost to the City of $6,223.80 for all five Councilmembers.