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SLO to consider salary increases for mayor and council 

Significant raises could be in store for the San Luis Obispo mayor and City Council if the city adopts a compensation committee's recommendations on Feb. 4.

click to enlarge RAISES? The San Luis Obispo City Council will consider giving itself raises on Feb. 4. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • RAISES? The San Luis Obispo City Council will consider giving itself raises on Feb. 4.

The committee, which met four times in 2019, has recommended 63 percent salary increases for council members and a 46 percent salary increase for the mayor.

If approved at a Feb. 4 SLO City Council meeting, the new wages would take effect January 2021.

The proposed raises would bring council members' monthly compensation to $1,990 (from $1,224) and the mayor's to $2,508 (from $1,725). All other benefits, like health insurance, would remain the same.

SLO's city charter requires that a committee form every two years to review City Council wages. The committee has seven members—a former elected official, a Personnel Board representative, and five citizens who were nominated by the City Council.

City Council salaries became a countywide debate last year. In November, the Arroyo Grande City Council considered giving itself a 60 percent raise but voted to delay its effective date to 2022—after the current members' terms were up—in response to community pushback.

In August, SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon spoke out about the equity issues she believes are raised by underpaying local elected officials.

"To me, the biggest and most important aspect is that a lack of compensation in turn directly impacts who can run and be in these roles," Harmon told New Times then.

While SLO's council is already the highest paid in the county, its salaries fall in between those of other California city councils.

In Santa Maria, the mayor and council members receive $1,563 and $1,313 a month, respectively—while in Santa Barbara, the same positions receive $4,626 and $3,700. Other cities, like Paso Robles, compensate far less. In Paso Robles, the mayor gets $800 per month and the council, $600.

Among the nine cities that SLO looked at to compare—Paso Robles, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Napa, Davis, and Chico—the median monthly salary for mayor was $1,366 and for council members, $1,313.

As part of the review, the SLO compensation committee also factored in how many hours the City Council works each week. With input from former mayors and council members, the committee found that SLO's elected officials work 20 to 30 hours a week—more hours than each of the nine comparison city councils, according to SLO. Δ

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