Future members of the Grover Beach City Council will be taking home slightly more money than their predecessors.
Current members of the council voted 4-1 on Nov. 20 to approve a first reading of an ordinance that increases stipends for the city's mayor and council members for the first time in more than 30 years.
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- MO' MONEY The Grover Beach City Council plans to increase pay for council members and the mayor for first time in more than 30 years.
Currently, both the city's mayor and council members receive a $300 stipend each month, the lowest of all SLO County's seven cities. Once approved, the new ordinance would raise the stipend to $600 per month for City Council members and $750 per month for the mayor. The increased stipends are roughly equivalent to those offered to council members and the mayor in Atascadero.
"I think it is fair and reasonable," Grover Beach Councilmember Barbara Nicolls said.
In previous discussions, members of the council indicated that they wanted to raise the stipend in the hopes that it might encourage more residents to run for office. During the meeting, Councilmember Mariam Shah estimated that she spends between 50 and 80 hours a month on council-related work.
"If you want people who want to do the job and you want people who are representative of this city, you should at least make it so they can pay a babysitter," Shah said.
Councilmember Jeff Lee was the lone dissenting vote against the stipend increase.
"I do this for the community, and realizing that this is not about compensation," Lee, who is running for mayor in 2018, told New Times.
If approved, the increased stipend will cost the city about $20,000 annually, according to City Manager Matthew Bronson. Bronson also said that, if approved, the increased stipends would not go into effect until December 2018, after the November elections.
"As someone who is termed out, this certainly won't affect me," said Shoals, who voted along with Shah, Nicolls, and Councilmember Debbie Peterson to approve the increase.
The increase will come back before the council for a second reading and final vote Dec. 4.
As they prepare to finalize the stipend increase, the council is also considering voting to offer health insurance benefits to council members and their families, and providing council members with laptops or iPads. Those items are expected to come to the council at a later date. Δ