FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Fresno City Council members are set to look at a proposed ordinance on Thursday to possibly raise their own wages.
“They’re living like kings off the taxpayers,” Councilmember Garry Bredefeld said.
Bredefeld said he’s voting against the proposed raises for Fresno elected city leaders. He believes the 69% salary increase for city councilmembers is too much.
“You run because you have a passion to serve the community, not to make a bunch of money. And the reality is, $80,000 with a $5,000 stipend is plenty of money. You’re not supposed to come there for the money,” he added.
The proposed ordinance would bump councilmembers’ pay up from $80,000 to $135,000. The council president would make $150,000, and the mayor’s salary would increase from $130,000 to $219,000.
Because of how the ordinance is written, the raise would only apply to councilmembers who start a term in 2023. That means city councilmembers Miguel Arias, Luis Chavez, and Nelson Esparza would all be eligible for the raise. City Councilmember elect Annalisa Perea would also benefit, but won’t vote on the matter.
Esmeralda Soria, Mike Karbassi, Tyler Maxwell, Garry Bredefeld, and current Mayor Jerry Dyer wouldn’t get the raise. However, Mayor Dyer and Maxwell would qualify for it if they win reelection when their current terms end.
Karbassi, Chavez, and Maxwell wrote the proposal.
“Our community needs more professionalism on the City Council. The current salary is not competitive to attract good folks to run for what has now become more than a full-time job,” Karbassi said in a statement.
“Councilmembers will still be compensated far less than County Supervisors, who receive both a hefty pension and monthly vehicle allowance. This proposal will not permit that for City officials,” he added.
Bredefeld said if it does pass council, he hopes Dyer will step in to veto the ordinance.
“While I do not question the number of hours worked by councilmembers and the complexity of their job, I am concerned with the message this will send to our employees as well as our taxpayers. 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,” Dyer said in a statement.
“An alternative approach would be to take it before voters, as was done in San Diego in 2018,” he continued.
Still, Bredefeld said he thinks voting for the raise is a bad look. He added that members bringing this forward should have done so before the June primary.
“Several of these councilmembers just ran for office, didn’t tell their constituents who they were seeking their votes until after they won their elections that they were gonna give themselves a raise of $55,000. It really is outrageous,” Bredefeld said.
Bredefeld said the raise of $55,000 is more than what the median household income is in Fresno. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2020, the median household income was $53,368 in Fresno.
The city council will look at this ordinance during Thursday’s meeting but is not expected to vote on it just yet.