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City Council members to discuss possible salary increase

Santa Clarita City Council members could receive a salary increase of up to 20%— a topic set for discussion at Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall. 

The proposed salary each council member would earn monthly is $2,419, which would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021, or after certified results of the November 2020 election, according to a city staff report. Santa Clarita City Council hasn’t discussed member compensation in two years, according to the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

On Jan. 1, 2017, the council member compensation increased to $2,015.83 per month, a rise of 5% per year over the 2015-16 calendar year — which is in part regulated by government code. 

“The City Council has not received a salary adjustment since January 1, 2017, and the earliest the next increase can be effective is Jan. 1, 2021,” reads the staff report. “Consistent with the government code, councilmember compensation may be reviewed for consideration of a salary adjustment anytime prior to the November 2020 election.” There will be two members of City Council up for election in 2020 — Bob Kellar, who’s indicated he’s not seeking re-election, and Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smyth.

The adjustment is proposed to increase up to 5%, not compounded, for calendar years from 2017 to 2020. The maximum budget impact would be $403.17 per month for each council member or a little over $24,000 annually for all five members, according to the staff report. 

The City Council also could approve a lesser-percentage adjustment. Tuesday’s decision is scheduled to introduce and pass to second reading an ordinance to amend the salary increase on a section of the Santa Clarita Municipal Code, regarding council salary. 

Street trees

Another ordinance the City Council is expected to introduce and pass to second reading is an addition to section 13.76.045 of the Santa Clarita Municipal Code concerning street trees. 

If approved, the ordinance would create flexibility for council members to greenlight agreements for the transfer of ownership and maintenance responsibility for street trees in limited circumstances “where such transfer would be in the best interests of the city and the private property owner,” the staff report reads. 

The city is responsible for trees located within the roadway right of way and, in most areas, street trees are located within medians or on parkways between the sidewalk and curb. 

“However, in other areas of the city, trees are located within the right of way in locations that would suggest that private property owners own the trees,” the report said. “In some limited instances, it may be appropriate for such private property owners to own and maintain the trees.”  

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