City Council to discuss pay increase Tuesday 

Santa Clarita City Hall
Santa Clarita City Hall

Santa Clarita City Council members are expected to discuss a 10% pay raise for next year’s council at Tuesday’s meeting. 

The first and only item of new business on the agenda for the council’s March 12 meeting is the discussion of an item to increase council members’ pay 5% each year since the last approved adjustment, Jan. 1, 2023, according to the agenda. It would take effect in 2025. 

The pay hike is in line with the maximum allowed under Senate Bill 329, a law authored by state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-San Francisco, who reasoned that because the compensation schedule for general law cities has not been adjusted since 1984 or kept pace with inflation, a pay hike would help councils’ diversity. 

“Because increased compensation can help individuals from across different income levels receive sufficient income from their service to help ensure that they can continue to serve the public and support their families,” according to the text of the law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in June 2023.  

The law sets a “salary” that a city can approve for its council members based on its population. The city of Santa Clarita’s population based on the 2022 Census Bureau data, 221,345 people, would put the city in category 2(E). For cities with a population range of 150,000 to 250,000, council members can earn $2,550 per month.  

The city is looking at a proposal that would increase compensation slightly over that, because the state law allows for an increase of up to 5% “each calendar year from the operative date of the last adjustment of the salary in effect.” 

In 2023, council member compensation increased to $2,328.28 per month; the latest increase would be a hike of $232.82, which would take their monthly salary to $2,561.11, which comes out to just over $30,700 annually. For comparison, a minimum wage salary of $15 per hour comes out to approximately $31,200 per year. 

That hike was approved in April 2022. During the discussion, Councilwoman Laurene Weste estimated she spends between 30 to 50 hours per week working on council business. Councilwoman Marsha McLean said she dedicates at least 50 hours per week as a member of the council and considers it a full-time job, according to the official minutes of the April 2022 meeting when it was approved. 

As the proposed pay increase would take effect in January, the only council member not expecting to see any benefit would be Mayor Cameron Smyth, who said previously he’s not planning to run for reelection after redistricting meant his neighborhood wouldn’t be on the ballot in 2024. The Molina Healthcare vice president expressed ambivalence about the previous pay increase.  

The law calls for the pay increase to be approved in a two-meeting process — the first meeting would be to explain the need for the increase and the second meeting would consider adoption of the increase. 

A city of Santa Clarita official said the move was done at the request of City Manager Ken Striplin as a matter of course, “pursuant to Government Code.” 

Government Code Section 36516(a), which was amended by SB 329, sets forth basic provisions that allow regular adjustments to the City Council compensation but does not require them. 

Councilman Jason Gibbs has not yet made an announcement but his committee has raised money with the intention of running, he said recently. Mayor Pro Tem Bill Miranda, McLean and Weste are up for reelection in 2026. 

The increase also is in line with past council member pay hikes: In 2017, council members received a salary of $2,015.83 per month, a 5% hike over each of the two previous years. 

In 2019, council members approved raising that to $2,217.41 per month, which was 2.5% per year, which took effect in 2021. 

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