The City Council should approve raises but those raises should be for the city employees and not at all for the City Council members. It would be an insult to the hardworking city employees for the City Council to give themselves a raise and not do the same for city staff.
After the housing boom burst, the Chula Vista economy fell off a cliff. The Great Recession and very poor decisions by the City Council caused the City coffers to suffer greatly. The City Council built two very expensive buildings: a new City Hall and a new Police Station. It’s debatable whether they were needed (or had to be so grandiose) but their timing couldn’t have been any worse. Since the City is addicted to housing fees, those dried up and the City, saddled with the City Hall / Police Station debt, could barely make ends meet. It got so bad that the city had to choose between keeping libraries open or laying off more workers.
So, from 2008 to 2013, city employees had to work with no pay raises, furloughs and, as more and more staff was cut, additional workloads. In 2013, employees received their first raise but now they’re back to negotiating for another raise.
A Chula Vista City Council Member (other than the mayor) is a part-time position and as proof, some even maintain full-time jobs at the same time. It would be silly to make the argument that attending ribbon-cutting and social networking events fill the time. This part-time job pays $50,000 PLUS a $4,300 car allowance PLUS something called “Special Pay” that can be as high as $5,500 PLUS $15,000 to be used to pay for health benefits. For what? Basically, all that is required to do is to show up to Council meeting and vote. They may participate as delegates to outside boards but that also comes with its own set of perks. Until now, they were not even required to do constituency work (and some don’t seem too eager to start).
For at least five years, city staff has quietly continued their work without complaint. They are now in negotiations to try to catch up with the rest of the world. We’ll see what happens there but for the City Council to approve a raise for themselves would send the wrong signal at this time and it would be akin to the legendary saying, “Let them eat cake.”