The City Council will vote this month on a proposal to increase council members' salaries from $300 to $400 per month.
Council members James Flora, Douglas Bystry and William D. Mahoney argued that out-of-pocket expenses related to service as council members exceeded the current $300 pay. But Councilman John C. Holmberg challenged his colleagues to produce evidence of those expenses.
Holmberg urged the council to postpone consideration of the increase until the 1990-91 budget is drafted. When his suggestion received no support, Holmberg said: "I think it's arrogant for the council to say, 'We're going to put this pay increase ahead of everything else in the budget.' As a taxpayer, it really irritates me."
The council voted to decide the issue on March 20.
Mayor Beth Graham, arguing for the raise, said, "No one should be precluded from service on the council because of financial status." Graham said she has been fortunate that her employer allows her to be absent from work on city business without a loss in pay.
The council's salaries have not changed since 1982, City Manager Lee Risner said.
Council salaries in Orange County's 29 cities range from nothing, in Seal Beach and Villa Park, to $690 monthly in Costa Mesa and Orange, Risner said.
Council members also receive a stipend of $30 for each meeting of the La Habra Redevelopment Agency, on which they all serve as directors. These meetings are customarily held at the end of City Council meetings and average about one each month, Risner said.
State law limits the pay increase to no more than $120, or 5% per year since the last raise in 1982, he said.