Solana Beach council approves first salary increase in 11 years

Solana Beach City Council members will see an increase in their monthly paychecks for the first time in 11 years.

The council on Wednesday, Feb. 13 unanimously approved about a 20 percent increase for city council members and a 35 percent raise for the mayor, effective for those on the dais after the November 2020 election.

Currently, all council members — including the mayor, which is currently a rotational position — are paid $712.58 per month but would be paid $860 following the approved increase. The mayor, which would be a separate, elected role beginning November 2020, would receive $960 per month.

The last time council members saw a pay increase was in 2008 when their salaries rose from $593.82 to the current $712.58. Prior to that adjustment, the last raise for council members was in 2003.

Under state law, the city council can establish salary dependent on the population of the city. Because of a formula established in state law — 5 percent multiplied by the number of years since the last adjustment — the council members could have increased their compensation to as much as $1,104.51.

Compared to other San Diego cities, Solana Beach is toward the bottom in regard to compensation.

In the nearby, larger City of Encinitas, for example, council members are paid $1,719 monthly, while the mayor is paid $1,819 per month. That salary was approved at a January 2017 council meeting and went into effect last November.

"By and large we are falling behind in the region," said Solana Beach Mayor David Zito. "I was thinking we can go ahead and do a raise because from a regional perspective it works."

However, he noted, the city isn't as low on the pay scale as neighboring Del Mar, where council members earn $300 per month, and the mayor earns $350 monthly, according to Del Mar's website.

The mayor also noted that city staff has had a cumulative raise of about 20.6 percent and believed the council pay raise should be in more in line with what the staff is receiving.

"I think we're kind of in a unique situation right now," he said, adding that in the last 11 years, city staff has gone five or six years without a pay increase.

Deputy Mayor Jewel Edson agreed.

"I like the methodology of doing something that's equal as to what we're giving staff," she said.

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