ENCINITAS — City Council declined to give itself a raise Feb. 17 citing the poor economy.
City Manager Phil Cotton proposed raising council monthly salaries by 10 percent, from $1,186 to $1,307, beginning after the upcoming November election.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth suggested rejecting the plan in the interest of “setting a good example to staff and the citizens.” Her motion passed 3-2, with Mayor Dan Dalager and Deputy Mayor Maggie Houlihan opposed.
The last pay adjustment for the part-time council positions was in 2008.
The council also delayed voting on Councilman Jerome Stocks’ proposal to give Cotton an 11 percent raise, which would bring his compensation, including wages and deferred compensation, to $242,640. Stocks said that Cotton’s salary was “well below” that of other city managers in comparable municipalities.
Houlihan and Councilman James Bond said the council should look at a salary survey of comparable positions before making any decisions. “As I understand it a lot of other cities are pulling in as well,” Houlihan said. “I want to be fair but I don’t want to take a position without taking it through the process.”
Houlihan moved that the issue be tabled until a salary survey could be given to the council subcommittee. The report will come back to the council the first meeting in March.
Cotton’s last raise was in May 2007, and council members often praise his leadership. Stocks said the raise would recognize Cotton’s performance with an increase comparable to the raises for unionized city employees.
Two residents spoke out against the raises. Tony Krantz showed the council a graph showing public and private sector employment rates. “The point is public sector employment is pretty dadgum secure,” he said. “In situations like this I think it’s important that we not be giving raises.”
Some residents had mixed feelings about the increase in salary for the council. “I think that if we paid the council a living wage, we might get a younger, more enthusiastic crop of candidates,” Cynthia Miller said. The Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident said she would expect more of council members if salaries increased. “It would be fantastic if the city had a council that was full-time and could really rise to the occasion,” she said.
However, Lila Smith said the pay scale was fair. “Public servants shouldn’t get rich off the backs of the taxpayers,” she said. “The low-level of pay will hopefully deter people from going on the council who just want to benefit themselves.”.