At its regular meeting on June 25, the Solana Beach City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that gives its members a 20 percent pay increase. Based on recommendations made in a recent staff report prepared by City Manager, David Ott, each council member will receive an additional $118.76 per month. Currently each council member is earning $593.82 per month.
The increase will go into effect in December when the new City Council is seated. With the adjustment, each council member’s salary will be raised to $712.58 monthly.
The sum of the adjustment was in accordance with State law, which allows a five percent raise each calendar year multiplied by the number of years since the last increase. It had been four years since the last adjustment. On Sept. 16, 2003, salaries went from $488.53 to $593.82.
City Manager, David Ott, supports the increase.
“Each council member puts in a great deal of work on a lot of issues that the public sometimes is not aware of,” he said. Ott summed up some of the boards and committees that council members must sit on. He described a schedule that included meetings, public events and travel at all hours of the day and night including weekends. “I am hopeful that the public starts to understand that these council members are part-time,” he said. “This isn’t very much money and I certainly wouldn’t want to progress down a road someday where very few people can actually be council members unless they’re retired or wealthy.”
Mayor, Dave Roberts said, “Right now on council, all five members have full-time jobs. Plus, we each put in probably around 20-30 hours a week for our council duties. We all do it because we love the community, but we want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to serve on council.”
Retired Solana Beach resident, Roger Boyd said, “I feel the pay raises are very reasonable. I think that it only covers part of the personal expenses that they do have in doing this essentially volunteer job. I think it’s very fair.”
Many agree that public officials should receive pay increases. Others have historically felt that public officials should not be able to give themselves raises without the explicit consent of the voters. Still some argue that serious legislatures respect the principle that lawmakers should hike the salaries for future officeholders and not themselves. Typically during tough economic times, pay increase for public officials would seem out of the question. Perhaps it’s because the amount appears to be so small that no one has opposed it. But in many cases the 5 percent raise is higher than cost of living increases that other city employees throughout San Diego will be receiving. As mentioned, though it has been four years since the Solana Beach council raised their salaries.
Del Mar City Council members earn a monthly stipend of $300, with no car allowance or medical benefits. The mayor is paid an additional $50 per month. Encinitas council members earn $1,186 monthly, with a car allowance, plus health benefits which include medical, dental, and vision. Solana Beach decided not to receive a car allowance and health benefits are offered.