Assembly Committee OKs Sen. Dodd’s City Council Pay Cap Bill
SACRAMENTO – Legislation has advanced from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would boost participation and diversity on California city councils by allowing the first council pay cap increases in nearly four decades, bringing salaries more in line with the cost of living.
“City councilmembers have some of the hardest jobs in California government,” Sen. Dodd said. “And all too often, they do this job with very little financial compensation. No one runs for city council to get rich. But the low levels of pay make it much harder for them to balance their careers and personal obligations with the calling to serve their community.”
Currently, in general law cities, city councils may vote to receive a limited salary, not to exceed caps based on population size provided in state law. However, the maximum amounts set by state law have not been increased since 1984, despite inflation of more than 300% during that time. Because of the disparity, people from diverse communities are discouraged to run for office. Others with fulltime jobs have been forced to resign their posts before their terms expire because they can’t devote time to council service and supporting their families. A majority of cities in California are under 35,000 in population and presently capped at $300 per month with minimal allowances for adjustment.
Sen. Dodd’s proposal, Senate Bill 329, would address the inequity by allowing councils to adjust their maximum pay to reflect inflation as measured by the California Consumer Price Index. Any increases would require a majority vote of the city councils.
SB 329 is supported by the California branch of the NAACP and the League of California Cities, among other groups. It passed the Assembly Local Government committee Wednesday with overwhelming support. The bill was previously approved by the full Senate.
“This is an incredible step toward equitability,” said Rohnert Park Mayor Samantha Rodriguez, who testified in support of the bill. “Many councilmembers get paid minimally, if at all. This can provide opportunity for working people who have had to balance jobs, childcare and school with public service.”
“Diversity and inclusion make for better policy-making at all levels of government,” said Carolyn Coleman, executive director and CEO of the League of California Cities. “Cal Cities is proud to sponsor this important legislation that lessens barriers for those interested in governing at the local level. This overdue reform is another tool communities can choose to use that can help ensure our city councils are reflective of the residents who live, work and play in their communities.”
Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties. More information on Senator Bill Dodd can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/dodd