Modesto City Council members should have their salaries more than doubled to $24,000 a year, a salary-setting commission recommended Wednesday.
The commission is debating how much the city should pay Mayor Jim Ridenour.
The five-person commission said Riden- our should earn $36,000 to $54,000 a year. Like other council members, Ridenour earns $9,600 a year.
Ridenour addressed the pay commission Wednesday, providing the volunteer members a look at four months of his calendars.
They were similar to calendars The Bee obtained through a California Public Records Act request that showed the mayor often begins work on city business by 8 a.m. and ends late at night.
"This is not a part-time job," Ridenour said.
He did not tell the commission what salary his office should earn. He said it would make sense to tie it to wages paid members of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, who earn about $68,000 a year.
Other council members have advocated for a relatively higher salary for the mayor, saying his work requires a full-time approach. Council members are expected to spend about 20 hours a week on city business.
The pay commission was formed after voters passed Measure M, a February ballot measure that expanded the mayor's responsibilities and laid the groundwork for council pay raises.
The commission, the members of which were appointed by the council, is scheduled to issue a final recommendation Wednesday. Council members can accept what the commission recommends, or award themselves a lower raise.
Several residents who addressed the pay commission in the past week have said the council should not accept raises this year because of the city's budget crunch. The council has cut more than $15 million in spending this year, leaving public safety positions vacant.
Ridenour said the pay commission's charge does not include a decision on whether the council takes the raises.
"Your job, in my opinion, is to set a wage," Ridenour told the commission. "Whether we get the wage is not up to you."
Four members of the pay commission appear ready to recommend a wage greater than $40,000 a year for Ridenour's office. They are retired Judge Hugh Rose III, Community Hospice Chief Financial Officer Rick Dahlseid, League of Women Voters President Ellen Meyer and retired Army Sgt. Ray Newman.
They have said better salaries would ensure that capable people run for office, and might diversify the mix of people who seek seats on the council.
Commission member Dave Thomas, a member of the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association, has argued that the mayor's wage should not exceed $36,000.
He argues that the mayor's job should not be rewarded with a significantly higher salary than council members because both elected positions have the same voting power. Thomas also contends that the mayor's pay should not exceed the average pay for Modesto residents, which is about $36,200, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Residents are invited to attend a public meeting in City Hall, 1010 10th St., today at 5:30 p.m. to speak out on the pay recommendations.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2366.