FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Fresno City Councilmembers are facing backlash after voting to give themselves a pay raise of $55,000.

“It’s the biggest slap in the face I think a politician could give to its constituents,” said former city councilmember Jerry Duncan.

“The reason you join and serve the Fresno City Council is to serve your city and make it better, not to be a vehicle to enrich yourself financially,” he continued.

The motion passed 5-2, with councilmembers Garry Bredefeld and Esmeralda Soria voting against it.

Councilmembers in support of the raise cited a lack of pension, long work hours and salaries of other city officials as reasons why the raise is warranted.

Councilmember Mike Karbassi said he believes the raise will attract more qualified people to City Hall. 

“Eighty-five thousand dollars a year – I’m sorry – it’s just not enough to attract the high caliber person we want to make tough decisions,” he said.

Chris Mathys, who served as the councilmember in Karbassi’s district from 1997 to 2001, says he was shocked by the council’s decision.

“Ninety percent of Americans don’t have a pension. The whole purpose of being a city councilman is to serve. Don’t rely on the taxpayers to get rich,” he said.

The mayor can veto the motion but if the vote stays 5-2 it will still stand. Mayor Dyer released a statement saying, in part:

“A 69% raise in one year is significant. A more responsible approach would be to provide incremental pay increases over time that will allow elected officers to receive salaries comparable to cities similar to Fresno.”

In order to prevent the passage of the raise, Mayor Dyer would need to veto it and convince at least one councilmember to change their vote.