By Brian Whitehead | bwhitehead@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
Published: September 20, 2018 at 10:43 am | Updated: September 21, 2018 at 12:04 am

For the first time in 63 years, San Bernardino council members will receive a pay raise. The City Council on Wednesday, Sept. 19, approved increasing city leaders’ salaries from $600 to $14,000 a year beginning next year, aligning their total annual compensation package with those offered in neighboring cities.

Councilman Fred Shorett was the lone dissenter. Council members’ salaries had remained stagnant since being set in 1955. And while the pay raise represents a nearly 2,400 percent increase, some, including retiring Councilwoman Virginia Marquez, believe that isn’t enough of a hike.

“This should be a full-time job,” Marquez said this month. In addition to attending bimonthly meetings and working with constituents, she said, there are events and ribbon-cutting ceremonies and special presentations, as well as city issues that pop up unannounced. The raises will take effect Jan. 1.

Over the past few months, a San Bernardino commission has discussed city leaders’ compensation and benefits as they relate to those in Chino, Fontana, Ontario, Riverside, Victorville and several other nearby cities.

As a result, the nine-person commission recommended increasing salaries for San Bernardino council members to $14,000 per year, or about what Fontana pays its council members. The salary increases will add $10,000 annually to the city’s CalPERS pension costs, according to a staff report on the issue.

“You get what you pay for,” Councilman Henry Nickel said Wednesday. “If we’re truly going to be a world-class city as we’re committing ourselves to, we’re going to need world-class leadership. And we need to make sure we attract those world-class leaders to this position.”

In addition to the pay raise, San Bernardino council members approved lowering their monthly auto allowances from $750 a month to $500 a month.

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