Should the City Council be voting on its own raises? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Should the City Council be voting on its own raises?

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Do you think our City Council members should be able to give themselves raises? That's the question being asked by the Salary Setting Commission, a group approved by voters more than 40 years ago.

They say Council shouldn't have that right, and are asking for changes.

It's something San Diego City Council members have had the power to do for years. Bob Ottilie, president of the Salary Setting Commission, hopes to change that cycle. He says while Council members have not taken advantage of approving big pay raises for themselves, he doesn't want them to be able to.

"If you vote on a pay increase, you cannot benefit from it, end of story. If you become mayor, you can't benefit either," Ottilie said.

Called the "City of Bell" ordinance, the commission's proposal was named after the 2013 case in which four City Council members in the small town of Bell were convicted of illegally giving themselves raises.

Here in San Diego, Council members are taking in just over $75,000, and the mayor makes slightly above $100,000. While Ottilie thinks they should be making more, he says they have always shied away from the issue for political reasons.

"Because it's politically popular to be able to say, 'I'm not gonna raise my pay when everybody else is suffering,'" he said.

If that's the case, then why change? Ottilie explains it's for two reasons: take away political influences and increase the candidate pool for future elections.

"We pay so little that the only people who can afford to take the job… somebody who doesn't earn $75,000 a year, a young person with very little experience, or the wealthy," Ottilie said.

The Council will review the proposal on Monday. Mayor Kevin Faulconer would not say whether he thinks Council members should have the right to vote on pay raises, but he did offer a response regarding the issue.

"It's not a time to increase salaries for political folks. We need to be focusing on neighborhood services. I've never voted and I won't support it now," he said.

A citizen actually came up with the ordinance. He fears because Council members haven't recently voted on raises, they've found other ways to make money, like through pension programs.

CBS News 8 reached out to other Council members, including Todd Gloria. A spokesperson says he is reviewing the proposal.

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