Worth a Raise

The Santa Cruz city council recently deferred on making a decision to vote themselves a significant pay raise, which on the surface might seem high but if you look at the current workload they are expected to carry, it’s a long time coming.

The council is allowed to increase its pay up to 5 percent each year, and can approve a 49 percent hike because members have gone since 2008 without a raise. The maximum raise would have given council members an annual salary of nearly $25,000 and the mayor nearly $50,000.

The position itself is supposed to be a part time position, but it leans heavily towards full time commitment from the individual, if you factor in meetings, prep time, community outreach, answering emails, sub committee meetings and prep time, and just the mental commitment it takes to understand the complex problems and issues which effect our town. I know most of the current city council members personally and I would guess they each commit at least 20 hours per week to the responsibilities of their elected position. The Mayor probably puts in closer to 30 hours per week.

So let’s do some simple math here. With the maximum raise, they could make $25K per year. 20 hours per week on average works out to about 1000 hours per year. That works out to $25/hr. WITH THE RAISE. I’d be willing to bet that at least half of the temp contractors working in administrative positions for the city make more than that. These are people making critical decisions for the city, and we are haggling over paying them $25/hr.

Being a council member is a pretty thankless job. You get attacked and harassed for taking a position on anything (simply because you can’t please everyone). You get caricatured by Decinzo. You get a twice a month scolding from the likes of Robert Norse and you just have to sit there and take it. If you want good, smart people making important decisions in this town, then take care of these people that sacrifice their personal lives for their community. These people aren’t in it for the money.


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