CARLSBAD — Voters will determine compensation for the City Council after the body approved a measure during its Sept. 18 meeting.
A subcommittee consisting of Councilman Michael Schumacher and Mark Packard recommended limiting future salary increases and basing raises on the San Diego Regional Consumer Price Index, which was at 2.8 percent in 2017, and to eliminate any retroactive increases.
The council can accept the index raise or waive it. If it is waived, the council cannot change the measure without a public vote.
In the case of a vote, Packard said the city could “piggyback” off a special election to keep costs down or submit the measure to the 2020 general election.
Currently, the mayor earns $25,826.04 per year, while council members earn $24,626.04. Each position also earns $100 per water board meeting, $75 per Community Development Commission meeting, with vehicle allowances of $450 for the mayor and $350 for each council member.
Packard said the recommendations came about as Carlsbad is a charter city and service to the city should be the primary goal, not a profession. Schumacher said it feels awkward to discuss pay raises.
“It’s still not appropriate that council members be full-time positions,” Packard said. “Council is a policy body, not an operational body. As council members, we are not qualified to make operational decisions.”
Packard said the motivation for serving on the council should be to serve the public interest, not for a job.
As a general law city, government code allows for up to a 5 percent raise each year. The city has only had two actions regarding compensation over the past 10 years with a 5 percent decrease in 2009 and another, a 47.7 percent increase in 2015 to cover several years of no raises, according to the staff report.
Schumacher, meanwhile, spoke about his duties, along with Councilman Keith Blackburn, on the Encina Wastewater Authority board of directors.
“Every year the topic of compensation would come up,” Schumacher said. “It was always very awkward talking about your own salary and raises. It’s very difficult to do comparisons from city to city. We put together these mechanisms (cost of living index) in place … so can avoid wasting staff time on these analyses.”
In comparison to other North County cities, Carlsbad has the fourth highest pay for its mayor and council members, according to the staff report. Escondido’s mayor, currently Sam Abed, earns $62,149, with Vista and Oceanside mayors earning more than $30,000. Those council members earn more than $27,000 (Escondido) to more than slightly more than $30,000 in Vista and Oceanside.