Pasadena Board to Ask for Pay of $935 a Month


Members of the Board of Directors decided Tuesday to ask voters to raise their pay to $935 a month.

The board unanimously approved placing the proposal for the pay hike on the June 5 ballot, but in the belief that voters might reject larger amounts, cautiously chose to peg it at $935. The amount is equivalent in 1990 dollars to the $250 monthly pay set in 1968, according to calculations by city staff members.

The ballot proposition will also ask voters to tie city director salaries to the consumer price index so that raises will be automatically increased as the cost of living rises. If approved by the voters, the increase would take effect July 1.

"I don't view this as a pay raise for me," said Director Rick Cole. "I'm really concerned about the citizens." Because board members receive $50 per meeting to a maximum of $250 monthly, residents must choose among candidates who are "retired, wealthy or overworked," he said.

The proposed raise was supported by Pasadena Citizens for Representative Government. Attorney Dale Gronemeier, a member of that group, suggested an even larger raise, to $3,000 per month, an amount the board perceived as unacceptable to voters.

"To talk in terms of $3,000 would be a distinct uphill climb to be acceptable," said Mayor William Thomson.

Barbara Lamb, a resident who opposes the aerial spraying of malathion, also spoke in favor of the raise. She said the board's actions last week--when it passed an ordinance banning low-altitude flights above the city and sent a city police helicopter into the air to enforce it--have boosted the board's popularity, which could result in easy passage of the pay measure.

Increases in board pay were unsuccessfully proposed in 1988 after nearly three years of review by a city-appointed Charter Study Committee. But that proposed increase, to $1,200 a month, was tied to creation of an at-large elected mayor with a salary twice that of the other board members. The mayor now is elected from among the seven board members.

To simplify the current ballot proposal and ensure its success, the board members avoided tying the pay hike to any other proposal, such as one suggestion, rejected Tuesday, to increase the mayor's salary by 50%.

Although Thomson acknowledged that hours for the mayor's job are longer than those of the other board members, he said a proposal to increase the salary would be perceived as the first step toward creation of a strong-mayor form of government, an idea rejected by the voters in 1988.

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