After listening to the criticism from public speakers regarding the agenda item, Santa Clarita City Council members approved an ordinance to give themselves a 2.5%-per-year raise for the work they do as council members.
Originally, the agenda item stated a staff recommendation of giving each council member a 5% raise for the 2021 and 2022 calendar years — from $2,217.41 per month to $2,439.15 per month — that would come into effect Jan. 1, 2023, and follow only after the upcoming election.
The last salary adjustment made by the council was 2.5% per year for calendar years 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Before a vote was had on the two 5% raises, a handful of residents came forward during the public comment section of the meeting to criticize the agenda item, with some saying that the council should even consider a reduction in their taxpayer-funded salary.
Steve Petzold, a Saugus resident who spoke out against the agenda item, compared the Santa Clarita City Council’s compensation against the compensation of other city councils throughout Southern California.
“I looked at comparable cities in north Los Angeles County: Palmdale council members $795 a month…San Fernando $730 (a month), Lancaster $600 a month, Simi Valley $1,202 a month. City of Pasadena $1,367 a month, Glendale $1,430 a month,” Petzold said, later adding: “To me it seems that the pay that you are receiving is very adequate and far outdistances those of comparable cities in north Los Angeles County.”
In response to the complaints from constituents, City Manager Ken Striplin defended the idea of giving the five City Council members a raise, saying that the agenda item adhered to California government code and was in line with standard state protocols.
“As part of that government code, it allows the City Council up to 5% per year since the last increase the City Council took,” Striplin said. “So, the 10% is a reflection of two years that the council has not received an increase. That increase also is not in effect for the sitting council; it is in effect after the next election.”
Mayor Laurene Weste and Councilwoman Marsha McLean also supported giving a future raise to the members of the dais, both saying they work as many as 50 hours a week to fulfill their obligations as elected representatives for the third largest city in L.A. County.
“I am always on and available for any constituent,” said McLean. “(Council members) attend many, many, many, many meetings in which we’re bringing dollars (to) all of you for transportation, for law enforcement, for the homeless.”
“That takes many hours to do and I consider this a full-time job, which I’m committed to,” she added.
Ultimately, Weste suggested the council halve the suggested 5%-per-year increase and adopt the same percentage raise as they had last time at 2.5% per year. The council added the amended motion to the consent calendar that they then approved unanimously.