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Santa Clarita City Council to vote on pay raise

Posted: June 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita City Council members will vote Tuesday on whether to ratify a 3 percent pay raise for each of the next two years, boosting council salaries by a total of almost $104 a month beginning in 2014.

This would bring council salary to $1,832.57 a month, adding approximately $6,223.80 to the city’s budget.

Per state law, council members had the option of boosting their pay by as much as 5 percent each year, but the figure was lowered to be more in line with the pay increases for city employees.

Council members previously voted 3-1 on June 11 to propose the increase, with Councilman TimBen Boydston voting against the increase and Councilman Frank Ferry absent from the meeting.

Boydston, reached by phone Saturday, said he also plans to vote against final ratification of the increase on Tuesday.

“I think that we’re still in a recession and there are still a lot of people that are struggling,” Boydston said Saturday. “I don’t think it sets a good example.”

Councilwoman Marsha McLean, however, said the council’s pay raise is in line with the extra pay city employees are set to receive.

“In the throes of the recession, when our city employees did not take a raise, we did not either,” McLean said Saturday. “Now things are a little bit better; and we’re able to give our employees a 3 percent raise.”

McLean also said being a council member is a full-time job.

“There’s an awful lot to it and you have to have a lot of technical knowledge,” McLean said.

But while each member of the City Council receives the same salary, base pay is only part of the equation.

Along with pay, council members are eligible for a variety of benefits, including pension, insurance, Medicare and worker’s compensation.

Council members and city employees are eligible for the same assortment of benefits, including insurance and retirement, according to city Human Resources Manager Jennifer Curtis.

The total value of these benefits differs among council members for a few reasons.

One such reason is whether a council member chooses to accept a certain benefit from the city.

All regular city employees and council members are eligible for “cafeteria” benefits to cover the cost of insurance, according to Curtis.

Curtis said the cafeteria dollars can be used for several different purposes.

“Everyone gets credited cafeteria dollars, and how you use that money is up to you,” Curtis said.
Another factor in compensation is seniority.

For example, Boydston, elected in 2012, receives $2,324.64 in monthly compensation, below the compensation rates of his fellow council members, in large part because of a decrease in the amount of cafeteria dollars he has access to.

Kellar, Weste, McLean and Ferry each receive $1,016.58 in these benefits. That figure is the same for all council members elected prior to Jan. 1, 2011.

Council members elected after that date, such as Boydston, are eligible to receive $214.62 a month.

Boydston has repeatedly asked to receive the same total compensation, saying doing otherwise creates a system of second-class representatives.

“I am not advocating that I need to increase mine; I would be fine if everybody decreased theirs,” Boydston said. “It just should be equitable because that would be fair.”



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