Council to consider granting themselves an 80 percent pay raise

Council to consider granting themselves an 80 percent pay raise
The Richmond City Council will explore an 80 percent salary increase at Tuesday's meeting.

On the agenda for next Tuesday’s Richmond City Council meeting is a proposal to increase council member's and mayor's pay by 80 percent.

If adopted, the ordinance would increase council members’ monthly salary from $1,402.50, plus another $300 per month allowance, to $2,525.50 starting in January 2025. The mayor would get a bump from $3,875 to $6,975 retroactive to January 1 of this year. The mayor's allowance is $350.

According to a staff report, Richmond’s elected officials have not received a cost-of-living increase since Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin was mayor in 2007.

Half the council members have only been on the job for about a year. Councilmembers Soheila Bana, Cesar Zepeda, and Doria Robinson were sworn into office on January 10, 2023.

Vice Mayor Claudia Jimenez took office in 2021 along with Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, who returned to the dias after previously serving as mayor and councilmember from 2005 to 2017. Councilmember Melvin Willis took office in 2016, and Mayor Eduardo Martinez was first elected to the council in 2014.

The report cites the increased cost of living in the Bay Area since the last salary increase in 2007 and said the new salary would be comparable to other local cities.

The proposal works out to a 5 percent per year increase for 16 years, which is the maximum increase allowed under California Government Code 36516.

City Council pay in other Contra Costa County cities varies from no compensation in cities like Lafayette and Moraga to $1,600 per month in Antioch, the next highest compensated councilmembers behind Richmond. ​​

Contra Costa County City Council Compensation Survey

Contra Costa County City Council compensation survey provided by the City of Richmond.

According to a city council compensation survey, Bay Area cities with population sizes between 100,000 and 200,000 range from $650 in Fairfield to $5,633 in Berkeley. In 2020, Berkeley voters passed a ballot measure to increase compensation to their elected officials.

Bay Area City Council Compensation Survey

San Francisco Bay Area city council compensation survey provided by the City of Richmond.

A new law authored by State Senator Bill Dodd allows local councils to base their pay on the city's population size. In cities like Richmond, with populations ranging from 75,000 to 150,000 residents, the law allows councils to approve monthly salaries up to $1,900.

According to the California Government Code, a council salary increase can only be implemented when at least one council member begins a new term of service. The proposed monthly salary increases for Councilmembers will take effect on January 1, 2025, after the November 5, 2024, General Election since two council members will begin a new term on January 1, 2025.

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