CARLSBAD — At a meeting Tuesday City Council did the most “awkward thing the council ever does,” said Mayor Matt Hall, and that’s talk about a pay raise.
In a four to one vote, the council approved an annual raise of about $2,000.
Last May, the council denied a pay raise and in 2009, the council voted to decrease their salaries by 5 percent.
Council members currently make $22,518 annually, including compensation from Water Board and Community Development Commission meetings. Their salary also includes $350 per month for a vehicle allowance.
Hall makes $100 more a month because he’s the mayor.
The pay increase will become active 30 days after the second reading and adoption, which is scheduled for April 7, according to the city’s Communications Manager Kristina Ray.
Councilmembers Mark Packard and Michael Schumacher both said they didn’t really have opinions one way or the other.
“To quote Shakespeare, ‘it’s much ado about nothing,’” Packard said.
Schumacher agreed and said he is open to more conversation.
“I’m not indifferent about much but this one I am,” Schumacher said.
He was the only councilmember to vote against the pay raise.
Carlsbad councilmembers have the third lowest salaries among surrounding cities.
Encinitas and San Marcos city councilmembers are the only two cities with less pay, at $18,432 and $15,332 respectively.
Mayor Pro Tem Keith Blackburn said they took a pay decrease when the rest of city employees were not getting raises.
“My thought process was our employees weren’t getting pay raises and as long as our employees aren’t getting them, as city leaders I didn’t think it was appropriate to get raises,” Blackburn said.
Since 2009, city employees are getting their raises back.
“I think it’s appropriate we get the same pay raises as our employees do,” Blackburn said.
Vista and Oceanside councilmembers and mayors each make between about $30,000 and $32,600 annually.
Escondido’s mayor, Sam Abed, makes nearly double the highest paid mayor in the region, bringing in about $62,000 annually.
Hall said serving on the council is meant to be a way to give back to the community, and he doesn’t do it for the salary.
He said it’s important to “stay at the bottom of the market,” which means it’s important to stay at the lower pay scale in comparison to nearby cities.
“I think for who we are and the performance that we do and being at this point in the range, meets the test of fairness,” Hall said.