Council Passes Sizable Raises for Itself, Mayor

Times Staff Writer

Pay for San Diego City Council members and the mayor will increase 29% and 20%, respectively, by next summer under a plan quickly approved Tuesday by the City Council.

Annual council salaries will increase from $35,000 to $40,000 on July 1, and to $45,000 on July 1, 1987.

Pay for the mayor will rise from $50,000 to $55,000 next month, and to $60,000 next summer.

Before Tuesday’s vote, the full-time San Diego mayor and council members were paid more than their counterparts in five other major cities with the council-city manager form of government, statistics compiled by the city’s Salary Setting Commission show.


Elected officials in Kansas City, Mo.; Phoenix; San Jose; Dallas, and San Antonio, Tex., all made less, according to the statistics, which were compiled in December. Coming closest: The $40,980 annual salary of the part-time mayor in Kansas City and the $31,000-a-year salaries of the full-time council members in San Jose.

The two-step pay raises, approved by the council on a 6-1 vote, were proposed by the commission four months ago. Councilwoman Gloria McColl was not in the council chambers when the vote was taken.

In a letter to the council dated Feb. 14, commission president Richard Grupp said the group suggested the raises because of several factors, including changes in San Diego’s cost of living, the average family income in the area, and “the need to not preclude qualified citizens from serving in these positions.”

After the vote Tuesday, Grupp said the commission believed that the raises would “attract the right type of people . . . that we would be proud were representing us.” That view, he added, is not a commentary on the abilities of incumbent council members.


“If you had that job (council member) pegged at $12,000, you would have plenty of takers, there’s no question about that,” said Grupp, a management and financial consultant. “And you’d probably have qualified people. But you wouldn’t be able to attract everybody that’s qualified at that figure because it’s not a living wage.”

Councilwoman Abbe Wolfsheimer was the lone vote against the salary increase. She said her opposition was based on an implied promise during her recent campaign.

“I contracted when I ran for office to accept the salary that was offered--$35,000,” she told reporters. “I accepted that.”

Besides their salaries, council members and the mayor each receive a $5,124 annual car allowance, up to $50,000 in life insurance coverage and other health benefits.


Elected officials also can make contributions to a special supplemental pension fund, and the city will make matching contributions worth up to 7.5% of the official’s salary.

The last time council members voted themselves a pay raise was in 1984, when they approved a $2,500 increase. The mayor was given a $4,000 increase.