On Tuesday, the Brentwood City Council unanimously approved a 22.5% pay increase for itself.
The current salary of a councilmember is $939.26 per month according to the Staff Report with its last pay increase coming in 2014 when it opted for a 65% increase.
On Tuesday, council opted for a 2.8% increase which came out to 22.5% total over the past 8-years bringing the new salary beginning in December to $1,150.59–an increase of $211.33 per month.
The council did have the option of up to a 5% annual increase (40% when compounded) per state law, but chose to give itself the same raise as city staff.
Councilmember Susannah Meyer called this a hard decision because going into being a councilmember none of them expected to be making a minimum wage and did not believe they were based on hours put in.
“I know for a fact we put in a lot more than just the meeting itself and initial prep before the meeting. I did not come into this to make money or supplement my income,” said Meyer. “I also know we have had staff members who have specifically not asked for raises on an annual basis in an interest of doing what is best for the city so I am torn by this.”
Councilmember Karen Rarey said she brought this up because it had been 8-years and would not benefit from this action.
“For those that who are residents who are listening, on average for me I put in 30-hours per week. There are times where I will go up to 40-hours, believe it or not when we were shut down with covid I was closer to 60-hours a week researching, listening to things and finding resources for residents. But we do take a lot of our family time for answering emails and attending meetings to learn more about things going on at the State level that might help us at the city level. There is just so many different things that we go out to attend,” said Rarey. “Each one of us has at least two sub-committee meetings in addition to two city council meetings with agendas pushing up to 1,600-3,600 pages, we spend Thursday night through Tuesday reading through all of that. Granted, you go into it saying this is what we want to do it. I love what I do, but there is a time to add in some extra income, it could be 5% for the entire 8 years. Then many in a few years give yourself another 5%. We do put in a lot of hours.”
Rarey stated she thinks the council deserved some sort of raise.
Councilmember Jovita Mendoza agreed.
“I don’t think people realize how many hours we do this. I know some of us have full-time day jobs. I know councilmembers Meyer and I work full-time and we are working a lot,” said Mendoza who noted she didn’t even know it was an option to get a raise. “A lot of us put in a lot more than people expect… we are on calls on Saturdays and Sundays and standing meeting on Monday and Thursdays.”
She continued stating there are a lot of people running for office who she hasn’t seen before, warned them about the amount of work they would be putting in.
“You will work for every single penny you get. It is 30-hours minimum to do the work,” said Mendoza. “Its not about a raise, its about being equitable.”
She also stated the city needed to attract talent to the council who know what the expectations were and if they couldn’t do that its not the “gig” for you.
Vice Mayor Johnny Rodriquez said this would be good for future city council members.
Rarey made a motion for 2.8% increase due to she not wanting to give a raise more than what staff received over the last 8-years. The motion was seconded by Rodriquez.
The motion was approved in a 5-0 vote.
Note Back in August of 2019, the Antioch City Council approved a salary increase for the first time in 14-years which bumped the pay of the city council to $1,600.04 per month.
Antioch Salary Survey of August 2019:
- $1,600 – City of Antioch
- $1,402 – City of Richmond (more info)
- $1,352 – City of Concord
- $1,150 – City of Brentwood (w/new increase in 2022)
- $939 – City of Brentwood
- $938 – City of San Ramon (updated is $948 per salary schedule in 2022)
- $650 – City of Walnut Creek
- $585 – City of Martinez
- $500 – City of Pittsburg
- $457 – City of Oakley