Council Pay Increase Measure Set for November Ballot

Council Pay Increase Measure Set for November Ballot

At its July 5 meeting, the Alameda City Council voted 4-1 to place a measure on the November ballot that would amend the City Charter to raise the council’s salaries if approved.

The measure would amend City Charter Sections 2-1.1 and 2-4. Currently, Section 2-1.1 states that “the mayor shall receive a monthly compensation of $200.” Section 2-4 states that “each councilmember shall receive $50 for each meeting of the Council which [they] shall attend… [up to two meetings a month].” Currently, the mayor receives a total yearly compensation of $3,600 a year — the mayor also receives an extra $50 for each meeting attended, up to two meetings a month — while councilmembers receive $1,200 a year.

In Alameda Special Counsel Michael Roush’s presentation, he showed a graph that revealed Alameda’s mayor and councilmember compensation was the lowest among cities in Alameda County — the City of Albany offers $3,600 a year to the mayor and councilmembers. Cities with lower populations than Alameda like Emeryville (2020 population of 11,679) and Dublin (2020 population of 63,856) both offer more compensation to their city councils. Emeryville pays $13,888 a year to their mayor and councilmembers, while Dublin pays $15,080 a year to their mayor and $14,573 a year to councilmembers, according to the staff presentation.

The amendment will cap City Council pay at $25,977 a year. The ballot question that will appear on the November ballot will ask, “Shall the Charter be amended to allow the City Council to increase the salaries for councilmembers ($1,200/year) and mayor ($3,600/year) for the first time since the 1970s, by capping the annual amount not to exceed 30% of the salary for “All Occupations, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Area,” (currently approximately $25,977) effective July 2023?”

The All Occupations, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Area is $86,590 as of March 2022, according to the staff memorandum for the meeting.

Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Vice Mayor Malia Vella and Councilmembers John Knox White and Trish Herrera Spencer voted in favor of the motion, while Councilmember Tony Daysog voted against. Daysog believed this is not an appropriate time to raise council salaries.

“Between May 2020 and today, circumstances have certainly overcome us such that if you ask me the wiser course of action is to not put this on the ballot of November 2022,” said Daysog. “The circumstances are obviously the COVID issue… and that we are in an incredibly high inflationary period, which by all projections will soon be followed probably by a hard recession.”

Daysog also said he was unsure if this is the right formula to determine City Council compensation and the council should seek more input from the community.

Ashcraft responded by saying that raising City Council compensation was already recommended by community members on the Alameda Police Reform and Racial Equity subcommittee.

“If we want to have a council that is representative of our community and give others the opportunity to serve, we wouldn’t want the financial limitations to be a hardship,” said Ashcraft.

Knox White and Spencer will write the argument in favor of the measure, while Daysog will write the argument against. Ashcraft and Vella will write the rebuttals. Measure arguments are due on July 25, while rebuttals are due August 3.

The compensation for City Council was last changed in 1971 when the California minimum wage was about $1.65 an hour, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations. If the measure is approved, the new compensation will go into effect July 1, 2023.

City of Alameda   City of Alameda yearly compensation for the mayor and councilmembers is the lowest in Alameda County.