SLO council members grant themselves 63 percent raise

By CCT STAFF

The San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to grant itself a large pay increase, with council members receiving a 63 percent raise and the mayor getting a 46 percent bump in compensation.

Base pay for council members will now increase from $14,688 annually to $23,880. The mayor’s annual base pay will rise from $20,700 to $30,096.

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Heidi Harmon sent a letter to constituents seeking support for the pay raises. The letter compared the stipend Harmon receives as mayor to the salaries of full-time employees. 

On Tuesday, about 10 members of the public spoke in support of Harmon and the council receiving a bump in pay. Public commenters argued Harmon is deserving of receiving a living wage for her work as mayor. 

One public speaker, Jeffrey Specht, criticized the pay raises, stating they were a misuse of city funds. 

Harmon sought a substantial pay raise despite receiving a 15 percent increase in compensation in late 2018. Council members also received 2 percent raises at that time. 

Additionally, the San Luis Obispo council opted again to raise its own pay, despite the city recently incurring a multi-million dollar budget shortfall as a result of rising pension costs. Over a 15-year span, the city’s unfunded pension liabilities rose from $0 to more than $150 million.

The new changes to council member compensation will take effect in Jan. 2021 and will come at an annual cost to the city budget of $46,164. 

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