SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The City Council Monday voted to make no changes to the pay for the mayor or council members in the upcoming two fiscal years.
The mayor currently makes $100,000 and change annually, while City Council members earn a little over $75,000. Salary Setting Commission Chairman Bob Ottilie said Friday this is the first time in the panel's 41-year history where no adjustment was recommended over a two-year period.
Ottilie and other commission members have expressed frustration over previous recommendations being either rejected or ignored over the past decade by the council, which has the final say on whether to accept or deny the suggestions. The recommendation of no change for the next two years was because they were "tired" of playing games, according to Ottilie.
In response, they've proposed what they call the "City of Bell" ordinance, which would prevent current officeholders from benefiting from any salary increase they've voted on.
Ottilie alleged that council members have repeatedly rejected recommended pay increases for political reasons, to avoid a backlash for hiking pay while other employees were laid off or had their compensation reduced, and when services were being curtailed for budget reasons.
However, the council and mayor should have higher pay in order to attract better talent, Ottilie said. Their salaries would have to be increased by 30 percent just to meet the higher cost of living, he said.
"We pay so little that the only people who can afford to take a job as a council member or mayor -- somebody who doesn't earn $75,000 a year, a young person with very little experience who's willing to devote their career to low income, or the wealthy," Ottilie said. "So we leave out everybody in-between -- all the talented folks."
He said 4,000 city employees make more money than council members, including 29 lifeguards.
The County of San Diego ties the pay of its supervisors to 80 percent of what judges earn, a practice the city should emulate in some way, he said. Judicial salaries are set by the state.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said this was not the time for elected officials to have their salaries raised. He said the city needed more streamlining, with the savings going into neighborhood investments.
In Bell -- in Los Angeles County -- five city officials were convicted of paying themselves exorbitant salaries while serving a working class community of just over 35,000 residents.