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Study Helps Determine if Council Should Ask Voters for a Raise


Bob Kronovetrealty
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June 21, 2024 -- The $23,184 in annual compensation paid to Santa Monica City Councilmembers is higher than that paid by most comparable cities, according to a staff analysis released Friday.

The analysis -- which will be discussed at Tuesday's Council meeting -- was requested by the Council last month to help determine if local voters should be asked whether to give elected City officials a raise ("Council Could Explore Asking Voters for a Raise," May 30, 2024).

City Council Compensation Comparisons
Note: Cities highlighted were not part of staff analysis (Chart courtsey of the City of Santa Monica

Of the ten cities analyzed by staff, Santa Monica had the third highest compensation -- far lower than the $60,660 paid in Inglewood, but much higher than the $5,821 for Culver City.

Six of the cities -- including Santa Monica -- paid Councilmemebrs between the $18,816 (West Hollywood) and $26,400 (Anaheim), according to the analysis.

Of the ten Westside and comparable charter cities analyzed by staff, all but Culver City and Beverly Hills, which paid Councilmembers the second-lowest compensation ($9,430), are charter cities

Charter cities, according to staff, "have supreme authority over their municipal affairs and the voters ultimately determine the compensation."

Santa Monica voters last gave the seven Councilmembers a raise in 1998, bringing the monthly compensation to $750 per month and $900 for the mayor and "provided medical and other benefits similar to those received by City employees," according to staff.

Measure J also included annual cost of living adjustments that automatically increased the compensation to the current $1,532 per month for Councilmembers and $1,837 per month for the Mayor.

"In addition to this compensation, all seven members of the City Council receive $400 per month vehicle allowance and $50 for each Special Meeting attended," staff wrote.

In addition to the ten cities analyzed by staff, the staff report includes four cities analyzed by a consultant for the City of Santa Cruz, which included Santa Monica.

Three of those cities paid higher compensations than Santa Monica. By far the highest was paid by Berkeley ($83,853), followed by Santa Barbara ($60,088) and San Luis Obispo ($25,068). The compensation in Santa Cruz was $20,524).

"After understanding how Santa Monica compares to other cities, the Council may consider placing an amendment to the City Charter on the ballot for the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election to allow Santa Monica voters to decide," staff wrote.

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