Tonight the Brentwood City Council will discuss the idea of increasing their monthly salary by $327. The increase would jump their salary from $569.25 to $939.26.
The move comes after the council unanimously directed staff during their Sept. 23 meeting to prepare an Ordinance to amend to amend Section 2.08.010 of the Brentwood Municipal Code to increase City Council salaries from $569.25 to $939.26 per month and, to increase the transparency in the benefit adoption process, to prepare an ordinance to have future Mayor and Council benefit revisions adopted by ordinance.
Councilman Erick Stonebarger said at the Sept. 23 council meeting that when discussing salary and benefits, he believed it should be done under the scrutiny of an Ordinance which is “done in public” versus going through the ease of a resolution where people may not see it.
“It forces that discussion to occur up here at the dais with a lot of transparency, The current resolution process does not have that transparency,” said Stonebarger.
The Mayor and Council Members currently receive the same salary and benefits which were last adjusted 13-years ago in 2001.
According to the staff report, such increases cannot be more than 5% of the current salary multiplied by the number of years since the last increase. Increases cannot be annually compounded. Should the Council wish to increase its salary, the maximum increase allowed is $370.01 ($569.25 x (5% x 13 years)), for a maximum monthly salary of $939.26.
Councilman Steve Barr explained that Brentwood ranks towards the bottom of total compensation and salary saying they were in the 20th percentile. The 80th would be near the top and that they are near the bottom. (Chart is shown below)
“The Council compensation has not been looked at since 2001. I think its time to look at it and its time we adjust it appropriately,” said Barr. “I think the simple fact that the city provides benefits is appropriate thing to have.”
Barr explained he was not in favor of cell phone allowances or car allowances but that the compensation helps offset time away from his business and family.
“I think an increase on the salary side is appropriate, I would not change the medical benefits at this point. I would also entertain in the future a discussion on council members receiving benefits while in office versus out of office,” explained Barr.
Councilman Gene Clare admitted he was surprised by the amount of time required to serve the citizens of Brentwood. He shared how one potential candidate asked him about the time commitment and when he told him 10-20 hours, the subject of pay came up because he was trying to balance compensation versus time commitment away from job and lost income.
“It almost seems like instead of becoming involved and participating, we are moving to a system where you have to be retired or have a flexible work schedule or independent wealthy to serve on local government,” said Clare.
Clare was in favor of benefits remaining the same, but the salary should be looked at because it has not been looked at since 2001.
Stonebarger argued that he didn’t believe councilmembers should receive benefits or medical or even a pension as a benefit. He said the total compensation is where it should be, but should replace benefits and turn it into salary or stipends.
“I would be in favor of raising salary if we reduced our benefits,” said Stonebarger. “That does become a challenge since we cannot take them away from ourselves thanks to glorious rules of the State of California. One of the suggestions I would like to make is to adjust benefits for the next term and letting some sort of salary conversation happen or ordinance to happen in 2016. This community will be better served by a council that does not have benefits or an impact of what they are going to receive during labor negotiations.”
He explained that in 10 years, he would like to see a council that receives a fair salary, whatever the number, and doesn’t receive any benefits associated with it.
Vice Mayor Joel Bryant said that if they were going to make adjustments, salary would be the point to adjust and leave the benefits alone until more information is presented to the council.
Mayor Bob Taylor said that benefits should be left alone but that salary should increase.
“I will tell you this, Brentwood is no longer a sleepy town. It’s a town close to 55,000 people, the decisions we make effect a tremendous amount of people. The time commitment, I don’t see how a Mayor can have a job. I am at meetings at 8:30 am in walnut creek, at 1:00 pm, 3:30 then at nights. I can see me telling the boss I need 6-days a week off and then I don’t want to work on Sunday. Its crazy,” said Taylor.
Taylor said after doing the math that if Brentwood had raise salary the right way it’s a total of just $27 per year.
“In 2001, $27 could get you something, I don’t know what you can get now for $27,” said Taylor.”
“Starbucks, maybe 3 of them?”
The council directed staff to present an ordinance where they would discuss the salary increase.
Bryant noted that a salary increase would help him pay for his gas. He also shared he is amazed at the amount of people who believe they make a six-figure salary.
“It would be helpful, The current salary literally does not pay the gas bill that I spend in this job. There hasn’t been a month that not spent an excess of 30-hours dedicated to doing the job with the city,” said Bryant. “The amount of time it takes to be effective in this position and meet expectations by those who voted us in is a substantial commitment both personal and business wise. I am for raising it to maybe cover my gas for 2-weeks. I agree, whatever the number is will be appropriate.”
The council agreed to raise the salary the highest they can from
Barr shared that doing the math, to get Brentwood into the 80th percentile would be a salary of $1,010. With the maximum they are allowed to increase, they will never be in the 80th percentile–meaning they will never catch it.
The Fiscal Impact, should the Council approve the action tonight, would cost the City $27,649. With the increase occurring at the mid-point of the year, the Fiscal Impact to FY 2014/15 would be $16,129.
Here is a look at the Salary Survey (Mayor/Council) – click to enlarge.
- Richmond – $3,935 / $1,462
- Concord – $1,300 / $1,300
- Antioch – $941.20 / $941.20
- San Ramon – $915 / $850
- San Pablo – $912 / $912
- Hercules – $831.60 / $831.60
- Danville – $675 / $675
- Walnut Creek – $$650/ $650
- Martinez – $585 / $585
- Pleasant Hill – $585 / $585
- Brentwood – $569 / $569
- Pittsburg – $500 / $500
- Oakley – $435 / $435
Below is the Staff Report:
On September 18, 2001, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 686 amending Section 2.08.010 of the Brentwood Municipal Code to set the City Council salaries at five hundred sixty-nine dollars and twenty-five cents per month for services to the City.
On August 26, 2014, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 2014-124, that, among other things, set forth the manner for calculating the City’s contribution towards medical benefits on behalf of Council members who took office prior to July 1, 2012. Resolution No. 2014-124 provides that Council members will receive a contribution that is equal to the greater of either $1,326.63 per month or the premium for the Kaiser employee only coverage.
On September 23, 2014, the City Council discussed, and directed staff to prepare, an Ordinance to amend Section 2.08.010 of the Brentwood Municipal Code to increase City Council salaries from $569.25 to $939.26 per month and, to increase the transparency in the benefit adoption process, to prepare an ordinance to have future Mayor and Council benefit revisions adopted by ordinance.
Method of Adopting Benefit Revisions for Increased Transparency in the Approval Process (Resolution versus Ordinance) In Brentwood, like most cities in California, Council benefits have been traditionally adopted by resolution. At their meeting of September 17, 2014, the City Council Compensation and Benefits Subcommittee (Mayor Taylor and Council Member Stonebarger) (the “Subcommittee), discussed this issue. The Subcommittee felt that adoption of benefit revisions by ordinance would provide greater transparency in the benefit adoption process and voted to recommend to the full Council that future Council benefits be revised by ordinance and not by resolution.
An ordinance has been described as a permanent rule that remains in effect until repealed, while a resolution is often seen as an expression of opinion or evidence of a decision made by a council related to a city’s administrative business. Resolutions are less formal than ordinances and much easier to adopt. Unless otherwise stated, a resolution goes into effect immediately and does not require multiple readings. An ordinance, by contrast, requires two reviews (or “readings”) by a council and does not go into effect until thirty days after its adoption at the second reading.
If State law requires an action to be adopted by an ordinance, then a resolution is insufficient. If State law requires the adoption of a resolution for a particular action to occur, then the adoption can also be by ordinance. If State law does not specify that an ordinance is required, then a resolution is sufficient. State law requires that the setting and amendment of council salaries be done by ordinance.
On the other hand, State statutes pertaining to the setting of council benefits do not specify that an ordinance is required. Therefore, the adoption of Council benefits may be done by ordinance or by resolution.
On September 23, 2014, the City Council discussed changing the method of adopting benefit revisions from resolutions to ordinances. During the course of their discussion, Council members concurred with the Subcommittee’s conclusion that having benefit revisions adopted by ordinance instead of by resolution would increase transparency in the approval process.
Specially, they appreciated the fact that an ordinance revising Council benefits would allow the matter to be considered as a stand-alone item at two public meetings rather than being adopted immediately, after one meeting.
Council member medical benefit contributions are currently determined under Resolution No. 2014-123. This resolution provides for certain specified automatic adjustments based on the cost of employee premiums. At the time the medical premium amount for the Kaiser employee only coverage increases above the cap of $1,326.63 per month, the cap will automatically increase to the Kaiser employee only rate. Adoption of the proposed ordinance would not change the current method for determining Council member benefits and any increased contribution amounts provided under Resolution No. 2014-123 would continue unchanged.
Regarding medical benefit contributions, the proposed ordinance procedure would only apply to any modification of the method for determining benefits provided under Resolution No. 2014-123. City Council Salaries
Currently the Mayor and City Council Members (collectively the “City Council” or “Council”) receive the same salary and benefits. City Council salary was last adjusted thirteen years ago, in 2001, when it was increased to $569.25 per month from $345.00. State law provides that increases to council member salaries must occur by ordinance. Such increases cannot be more than 5% of the current salary multiplied by the number of years since the last increase. Increases cannot be annually compounded. Should the Council wish to increase its salary, the maximum increase allowed is $370.01 ($569.25 x (5% x 13 years)), for a maximum monthly salary of $939.26. Nothing in State law precludes a lesser increase from being adopted. However, if a lesser increase occurs, then that revised total amount serves as a new base and future increases would be limited to a maximum of 5% a year commencing the next year.
At their meeting of September 17, 2014, the Subcommittee met and discussed the possibility of increasing Council member salaries, but did not arrive at a recommendation. Alternatives discussed included raising member salaries while reducing or eliminating benefits; raising member salaries without reducing benefits; or leaving current salary and benefits unchanged. On September 23, 2014, the City Council discussed the possibility of changing their monthly salaries. During the course of the discussion, Council members noted that they spend considerable time working on City matters beyond just the City Council meetings. Their efforts include preparing for and attending internal and external meetings on behalf of the City, as well as representing the City at community functions and events. They also noted that their salaries had not been adjusted for thirteen years and that Brentwood, when compared with other Contra
Costa County cities and survey cities, was in the lower half on council salary charts. State law prohibits any salary increase for an entire council from taking effect until at least one council member commences a new term of office. For a salary increase for the entire Council to go into effect in 2014, a salary ordinance would need to go into effect prior to December 9, 2014 (when current Council terms end, and new terms begin). This means that an ordinance adjusting Council salaries would need to be introduced tonight and adopted at the October 28 meeting (becoming effective November 28).
Should the Council approve a monthly salary increase to $939.26 per month, the net effect on the General Fund would be an annual cost increase of approximately $27,649. With the increase occurring near the mid-point of the year, the impact to FY 2014/15 would be $16,129.
If approved, staff will incorporate these amounts in to the mid-year budget review which will be presented to the City Council in January 2015.