SLO City Council wants a 63 percent pay increase


Despite the city’s distressing financial situation, on Tuesday the San Luis Obispo City Council will consider granting members a 63 percent pay raise and the mayor a 46 percent increase in compensation, according to the agenda.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, members will consider raising their compensation from $1,224 to $1,990 and the mayor’s pay from $1,725 to $2,508. In late 2018, the council voted to award Mayor Heidi Harmon a 15 percent increase in pay, while the rest of the council received 2 percent raises.

City council stipends were originally provided to cover the cost of attending meetings, but have since grown to include substantial benefit packages and monthly income.

In a letter to constituents seeking support for the pay raises, Mayor Heidi Harmon compares her stipend to full-time employee salaries.

“Recommending a monthly increase for Mayor from $1,725 to $2,508, which equates to $30,996 annually from $20,700,” Harmon writes. “This is 63 percent of the median income, based on $48,000.”

Mayors throughout the county have generally held full-time jobs or have been in retirement while serving as mayor. For example, Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray-Russom is a teacher at Santa Maria High School and Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee works in the San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department.

The SLO City Council is considering the raises despite the city recently incurring a multi-million dollar budget shortfall due to rising pension costs. Over the past 15 years, the city’s unfunded pension liabilities have gone from $0 to more than $150 million.