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Salinas city council considering significant pay increase for council, mayor


SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV) -- Salinas city council members are moving forward with a significant annual salary increase for its members, including the mayor.

This is pending another discussion by council members scheduled for January 9, 2024.

Currently, the annual salary for Salinas Mayor sits at $9,600 while the six council members each earn $7,200.

The proposed increase salary would put all council members and the mayor at an annual salary of $30,600.

According to a report from the city, the increase in the annual salary would have an impact on the city's general fund.

Proposed annual salary increase for Salinas council and mayor (Courtesy of City of Salinas)

If the proposed salary increase is ultimately approved, the total cost to pay for council members and the mayor would go from $52,800 per year to $214,200 a year.

Multiple people speaking about a prior agenda item about the city's attempts to crack down on the presence of sex workers in public areas pointed to the lack of police officers available to patrol the streets.

"It's nice to get a raise, but that's a big jump," said one resident. "You need to prioritize the police department and our streets."

According to City Attorney Christopher Callihan, the last time council member compensation was increased was in 1984. He also points to inflation and cost of living going up since that time.

He also points to California Senate Bill 329 which paved the way for this agenda item in allowing for council compensation in the state to change.

According to the bill's author, as read by Callihan, "the low levels of pay make it harder for council members to balance their careers and personal obligations for the calling to serve their city."

Salinas Councilmember Andrew Sandoval confirmed during the meeting anyone on the council can choose not to accept the upgraded compensation.

"The shortage in our police department is ridiculous, the funding is, but this is not a problem created by this council," said Sandoval.

He went on to voice his approval of the upgraded compensation.

Councilmember Steve McShane voiced his concerns about increasing the council's salary.

"On principle, I worry about cash being a motivator for public service. I think this is too large of a percent," said McShane.

Mayor Kimbley Craig suggested a real conversation needed to be had regarding changes to council member compensation and looks forward to the additional conversation in early January.

But not without pushback from additional members of the public.

"If the money that was gonna go to city council competes for money that would support our police force, I would urge that you resolve the issue with our public safety before you resolve the issue of your financial burden as you sit in seats that you chose to sit in," said a Salinas resident.

No action was taken during the meeting Tuesday night.

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Victor Guzman

Victor Guzman is the Assistant News Director at KION News Channel 5/46.


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