San Luis Obispo’s mayor and city council will get a substantial pay raise next year. The council voted unanimously this week to bring salaries up to the area's median income.
San Luis Obispo city officials got their last pay bump in 2018. The mayor received a 15% increase while the council only got 2%. It’s in the council’s rule book that it reviews salaries every two years.
“It’s an unfortunate reality of our charter that we get put in their position of having to be the ones that makes this decision,” San Luis Obispo Vice Mayor Aaron Gomez said Tuesday night. “But at [this] point we’re simply supporting this committee's decision that went through a very thorough process.”
Gomez was referring to the Council Compensation Committee, which is made up of citizens, a former elected official and a personnel expert. The committee met several times in 2019 and recommended that the mayor get a 46% raise and council members more than 63%, This translates to the mayor and council earning a little more that $30,000 dollars and just under $24,000 dollars each year, respectively.
Most who spoke Tuesday evening were in favor of the pay increase. Jeffrey Specht was not.
“Your salaries should not be a raise, you should be up here because you love your city and you want to serve your community,” Specht said.
There were also some written dissensions, but most of the correspondence and the people who spoke Tuesday said that without a pay increase, the current compensation limits who can afford to do the part-time city leader work. Many, like Kelly Donahue, said higher pay will foster more diversity in future councils.
“An increase in compensation will not only contribute to a more thriving community,” Donahue said. “It also insures no single community member will be priced out of serving because of age, background or socioeconomic status.”