The Williams City Council last Wednesday voted 3-2 to give themselves a pay increase.
The new stipend of $420 a month, a 40 percent increase, will take effect in December of 2020, following the next election, if the ordinance receives final approval at their next meeting. The Mayor will receive $560 a month for additional duties of signing checks and documents.
The stipends for elected City Council members have not been increased in nearly a decade, said City Attorney Ann Siprelle.
Siprelle said California law sets the salaries of city council members in cities with less than 35,000 people at $300 a month or less, although the law does allow for 5 percent increases per year retroactively to the last increase.
In 2010, the Williams City Council increased the salary for the first time in 23 years from $200 to $300 a month to match what council members in the City of Colusa were paid.
Colusa City Council members have been paid $300 ($3,600 a year) since 1990. In neighboring Willows, City Council members are paid $150 a month ($1,800 a year). Orland members take no compensation and consider their elected position to be voluntary public service.
Mayor Alfred Sellers, along with Councilmen Santos Jauregui and Roberto Mendoza, voted at the March 20 meeting in favor of the increase because they felt $300 a month was not enough to cover time and expenses related to performing their duties.
In addition to attending monthly meetings of the City Council, members sit on various committees and commissions, and act as liaisons to city departments and associations.
Councilmen Mendoza said the new salary would not affect him unless he decides to run for reelection, but supported the increase because he felt $300 was not enough to cover the cost of having to take off work, and that the opportunity would not come again for the council to change it until after the 2022 election.
“If we don’t do it now, we will have to wait another two years,” Mendoza said. “It’s not automatic.”
Councilmen John Troughton and Sajit Singh opposed the pay increase.
“I going to say what I said before; I can’t vote for this,” Troughton said. “We don’t do this for the money. We do it because it needs to be done.”
Troughton said $300 is sufficient for covering expenses related to the City Council duties, but that the job is to serve the public without a salary.
Although City Council members are allowed to submit a request to the city to be reimbursed for mileage, which the IRS set at .58 cents per mile as of Jan. 1, most don’t take advantage of the perk, even though it is offered in addition to the stipend.
Councilman Singh said he felt increasing Council stipends sends a negative message to the people of Williams.
The Council will have to vote again on the ordinance at their April 18 meeting. ■