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Council will discuss possible pay raise

SOLANA BEACH — At the request of Mayor Lesa Heebner at the Feb. 11 meeting, council members will discuss the possibility of approving a raise for themselves at a future meeting.

Each of the five members currently receives a monthly stipend of $712.58, an amount that was last adjusted in 2008. Prior to that they were paid $593.82.

According to government code, council compensation can only be increased by an ordinance. Since a city council is the only body that can pass an ordinance, it’s the only one authorized to approve a salary increase.

State laws also determine the maximum amount of an increase and when it can occur. The initial amount council members can receive is based on the city’s population. Each increase can be no more than 5 percent for each calendar year since the last increase.

Raises can only take effect following an election when a new term of office begins.

The codes also require council members to take a salary, but in the past many have donated the paycheck to local charities.

In addition to bimonthly council meetings, there are more than 20 regional, standing and ad hoc committees that require representation. Most council members are on at least five.

Heebner noted Solana Beach is a small city.

“What that means is that we actually do a lot more of our own work,” she said. “We don’t have aides. We don’t have assistants. We drive our own cars.

“We read our own agendas,” she added. “We don’t have anybody reading them for us and providing us a little notebook with great little crafted remarks.”

Council members also are permitted to take a car allowance, but none have requested it in the past few years. They opted to forgo the perk when the economy was weak and across-the-board budget cuts were being requested from every department.

“So we’re in a new day,” Heebner said.

Council members agreed both topics should be added to a future agenda so they can at least have a discussion about their options.

“I’d be interested in hearing more,” Councilman Mike Nichols said. “It’s a conversation that, even if we vote no on it, needs to happen because it’s part of the process.”

Should a salary increase be approved, council members would be paid $961.98 per month beginning in December 2016.