After debating the issue in April, City Council members voted Tuesday to put a pay raise for themselves on the November ballot to see if it passes muster with voters.
Council pay would increase from $600 a month to $1000 a month, with annual adjustments for inflation.
In a 4-2 vote, council members Margaret Abe Koga and John Inks voted against the ballot measure, with Abe-Koga saying that council members should be paid based on how much time they actually spend on the job. Member John McAlister, who supported the raise in April, was absent.
Council pay would still be lower than what voters approved for the council in 1984, which would equal $1,137 today if adjusted for inflation (the 1984 measure paid council members $500 a month).
"In my opinion what this is doing is restoring what voters approved 30 years ago," said council member Mike Kasperzak.
Unlike other city employees whose salaries are raised with inflation, "We have gotten an annual decrease" in pay through decreasing buying power, Kasperzak said. "It's not a raise, it's an adjustment."
Ronit Bryant switched her vote Tuesday, going from opposing the raise in April to saying she wanted to allow voters to decide. Bryant had originally made a case for the raise as a way to attract candidates who need to work for a living, and said, "I was opposed to this because I didn't think moving to $1,000 is making a difference either, in terms of diversity" among council candidates. The proposed raise doesn't allow a council member to say, "I'll just work part time."
In April council members voted 4-3 in April to pursue the raise. Members had expressed concerns that voters would not approve a higher proposed raise that would bring the salary to $1,200 a month, even though it would raise their effective hourly pay to only slightly above minimum wage.
Council members told the Voice that they work an average of 30 hours a week, which comes out to $5 an hour at $600 a month, $8.33 at $1,000 a month and $10 at $1,200 a month. California's minimum wage is $8 an hour and will rise to $9 on July 1.