Around Town | May 23, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 23, 2014

Around Town

PAY DAY ... Palo Alto has at least nine residents who make far below the living wage and often work well past midnight. These nine residents, known collectively as the City Council, make about $600 a month (the mayor and the vice mayor get a little extra), an amount that is scarcely enough to rent a closet in the city they represent. And even though serving on the council is a part-time job that carries plenty of non-monetary benefits (legislative power, fame and the warm feeling of doing a civic duty), some in the current group believe it may be time for a raise. The council's Policy and Services Committee discussed on Tuesday night a proposal to raise the stipend council members receive and directed staff to conduct further research on what their counterparts in similar jurisdictions receive in compensation. While the committee didn't make any decisions about stipends, members expressed interest in getting raises. Council salaries in California are set by state guidelines, with figures dependent on the city sizes. In Palo Alto, the council could raise its salaries by about $390 a month and still remain within these guidelines, City Attorney Molly Stump told the council committee. Any further changes could be made by amending the City Charter, which would require a vote of the people. Councilman Greg Scharff argued Tuesday that a Charter change is not something that the city should pursue at this time. Councilman Larry Klein disagreed and said he would support giving the voters a chance to weigh in on doubling the council's stipend (provided they also approve in November a reduction in council seats, a proposal that is expected to increase the workload of each member). "I think conditioning an increase on the reduction (of seats) would make it very clear to people that they have to expect more from the remaining seven," said Klein, who is terming out this year and who would thus not be effected by the change. The committee ultimately voted 3-1, with Scharff, Gail Price and Greg Schmid supporting and Klein dissenting, to resume the conversation once more information comes in.

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