Last year, San Jose voters passed a ballot measure that would move salary-setting power from the City Council to an appointed commission. The goal was to end the longstanding practice of councilors setting their own pay increases.
On Monday, the inaugural three-member Salary Setting Commission made a stunning recommendation. Commissioners Eileen Consiglio, David Burckhard and Douglas Ludlow suggested upping Mayor Sam Liccardo’s yearly pay by $58,000 to $190,000 and that of each council colleague by $27,500 to $125,000.
According to a survey by the commission, that would bring the council more in line with other major cities. San Francisco Mayor London Breed makes $326,000 and Libby Schaaf in smaller Oakland pulls down $203,000 in annual compensation.
Consiglio, Burckhard and Ludlow said boosting pay would help attract strong candidates.
“The commission felt strongly that the salary should empower good candidates who can devote their full time to the position,” they wrote in a joint letter to David Sykes.
A host of residents begged to differ. Even Liccardo said that’s not a good look if the city’s going to ask other employees to tighten up in the face of looming budget shortfalls.
Liccardo said he’s pretty sure this isn’t what voters had in mind when they passed Measure U last fall. “Our city colleagues don’t earn salary increases of that nature, and we have ominous signs of budgetary challenges ahead,” he wrote in a memo to the council Tuesday. “That’s why I’m calling for a reduction of the mayoral salary increase to something more modest.”
Instead of a 22 percent bump up, Liccardo pitched a 3 percent annual raise—max. He didn’t weigh in on the proposed raise for the rest of his colleagues.