A city salary commission suggests Modesto's mayor and City Council should make significantly more money, but it still offers only general guidelines for how much.
Modesto's mayor and council members make $800 a month. Council members should command $1,500 to $2,000 a month, and the mayor $1,833 to $4,500, according to the Citizens' Salary Setting Commission.
The commission formed earlier this month to carry out one of the provisions of voter- approved Measure M, a set of revisions passed in February meant to increase accountability at City Hall. The commission will put the suggestions to the public Monday and at a second public hearing April 10.
"We're just gathering information at this point," said commission Chairman Hugh Rose III, a retired Superior Court judge. "We decided to put out the high and low numbers, which was kind of the range of the committee, and see if we could get some meaningful, thoughtful input from the community."
Modesto voters passed Measure M with 78 percent approval. The measure designated a mayoral salary of up to 50 percent that of a Superior Court judge, which would be $89,000 a year, and for council members up to 50 percent of the median family income in the area, which would be about $27,500. Rose noted the suggested ranges are well below those figures.
The mayor's yearly salary is $9,600. Even at the highest level suggested by the committee, the mayor would make $54,000 per year, well under the $82,080 a year brought in by the Stockton mayor, whose duties were used as the model for Measure M.
Those responsibilities include making recommendations to the Stockton city manager on policy and programs, suggesting budget adjustments, and selecting and hiring staff to help the mayor and City Council.
Time spent on job just 1 factor
Commission member Dave Thomas, a past president of the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association, acknowledged the argument that mayors can spend a great deal of time representing the public, but spoke against raising the mayor's pay on that basis alone.
"There is an argument that the more time a person spends at a job, the more you ought to pay them, and I think that is an interesting factor but hardly compelling," Thomas said.
"Part of my reasoning for that is: If someone spends a lot of time at a job, it can be because they can't do it or they are bad at it," he said. "But I think it is fair to say that time is a factor."
He said raising the mayor's pay too far above that of council members could undermine the importance of council members, who have the same voting power as the mayor.
"I really want to hear what the citizens have to say," Thomas said. "I'm going to take those comments to heart."
The committee has until April 16 to formulate salary recommendations to the council, which is scheduled to review the findings April 22. The council can adopt any increase up to the recommended figure.
Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2324.