PALMDALE — The mayor and City Council will see their compensation for their time and vehicle use increase after more than a decade without changes.
The twin compensation ordinances are intended to defray the costs of serving as the city’s elected government.
The City Council approved the changes at its June 15 meeting.
The monthly compensation does not take effect until December 2022, after the next election, when the seats for mayor and Council Districts 3 and 4 will be open. The vehicle allowance takes effect July 1.
“Every one of the members of the City Council obviously don’t do it for the money, but there’s a commitment to serving the community, and compensation does play a part,” Councilmember Richard Loa said. “The most important part is serving the residents.”
Councilmembers currently receive $759 monthly and the mayor $1,265 monthly, an amount unchanged since 2007.
Prior to 2009, Palmdale was a general law city, with compensation for the council set using a formula established in state law and based on population with increases of up to 5% each calendar year. However, once Palmdale became a charter city in 2009, it no longer had to adhere to that formula and could set compensation at whatever level the Council deems appropriate, according to the staff report.
Under the ordinance approved on a 4-0 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Laura Bettencourt absent, monthly compensation increases to $1,500 for each council member and $2,000 for the mayor.
The staff report includes comparison to similar cities, including Lancaster, where Councilmembers and the mayor receive $600 per month, and Santa Clarita, where Councilmembers receive $2,217 monthly (the mayor position rotates among Councilmembers). Lancaster is a charter city, but Santa Clarita is a general law city, which sets compensation based on the state formula.
Victorville, a charter city of approximately 128,000 people in San Bernardino County, pays its Councilmembers $943 monthly, according to the staff report.
The staff report also includes comparisons to two other general law cities. Fontana, with a population of more than 210,000 in San Bernardino County, pays its Councilmembers $1,755 and mayor $3,500 monthly. In Moreno Valley, a city of more than 200,000 in Riverside County, the mayor and Councilmembers each are paid $1,762 monthly.
The vehicle allowance is a flat monthly payment that is described in the city’s Municipal Code as “reasonably related to what is required for the performance of the City Councilmembers’ public duties,” according to the staff report.
The existing vehicle allowance of $200 per month was set in March 2001.
The new monthly allowance of $500 was arrived at after staff looked a comparable rates and considering the cost of fuel, miles traveled by Councilmembers, maintenance and insurance costs, City Manager J.J. Murphy said.
Councilmember Juan Carrillo said he felt the increase was a fair look at the increases in costs over the 20 years since the allowance was last set.
“Things have definitely changed,” he said.
The increase will mean an annual increase in costs to the city of $18,000, according to the staff report.
The vehicle allowance of $500 passed on a 4-0 vote.