The San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously to increase council member salaries beginning January 2021.
The city will implement the salary adjustments after the next election, according to a news release.
The mayor will receive a 46 percent salary increase, from $1,725 to $2,508 a month. Council members will receive a 63 percent salary increase, from $1,224 to $1,990 a month. Their health benefits will remain the same, according to council documents.
“I am proud of the action that the Council took to begin to bring compensation in line with community expectations, and to support the demands that come from increasingly complex issues and needs for community engagement,” Council Member Carlyn Christianson said in the news release.
The city charter requires that a compensation committee be formed every two years to decide what the salaries of staff members should be, according to council documents.
“Given the workload, the gravity of these decisions, the demands of being present at community events, and the hours that go into the process, we felt at a community level that the compensation is not currently appropriate,” Compensation Committee Chairperson Dan Rivoire said.
The compensation committee increased the salaries to align with the city’s median income of $47,777. They calculated how much of the median income each member should make based on how many hours they work a week – with council members at 20 hours a week and the mayor at 25 hours a week.
The committee concluded low city council wages could prevent some community members from running for office because they are unable to afford it, Rivoire said.
“Without strong compensation, there are likely two types of people: those with the luxury of public service, or those without the luxury who must instead subject themselves to public sacrifice in order to be represented,” San Luis Obispo resident Eric Veium said. “There are so many more [who] can’t afford such great sacrifices. Poor, elderly, disabled, young families, single mothers and our union brothers and sisters.”
The city council salary increases will impact .025% of the budget, which the committee decided is “fiscally responsible,” Rivoire said.
“The dollar amount overall given here, we felt, wasn’t enough to cause a crisis or a massive impacted budget,” Riviore said.