The next wave of Fresno City Council members who take office are looking at a hefty pay raise.
Although Council members Garry Bredefeld and Esmeralda Soria objected to a projected 69 percent raise, Fresno lawmakers voted 5-2 to introduce the proposal on Thursday. The council will bring back the resolution at a future meeting to make it official.
Under the proposal, the councilmembers will earn $135,044, which is equal to the salaries of the Fresno County Supervisors.
The pay bump will only take effect for councilmembers starting a new term.
The council president each year will take home $151,925, while the mayor – also at the start of the new term – will earn $219,447, up from $130,000.
Council members currently make an $80,000 salary, while the council president earns $85,000.
Luis Chavez – who sponsored the proposal along with Mike Karbassi and Tyler Maxwell – said the reality of holding a position on the council is that it is full-time, not simply a part-time job.
“My hope is that in the future we attract highly-qualified, professional candidates for the position,” Chavez said.
Bredefeld voiced his opposition to the proposal, calling the salaries that the county supervisors make “outrageous.”
He also pointed to the fact that the household median income in Fresno is $53,000.
“Based on just doing an analysis of what people have as income in our city, the very people that we represent, it’s dramatic,” Bredefeld said.
“The raise itself is larger than the total income in their homes. People are struggling. They have difficulty putting food on the table. They can’t pay gas, and the message we’re sending here is that we’re going to take your taxpayer dollars and we’re going to put it in our pocket even though you’re struggling.”
Karbassi agreed with Bredefeld that it “sounds almost crazy” to bring something, but reiterated Chavez’s point about the quality of candidate he hopes to see run for city council in the future.
“My aim in doing this is when you ask someone who has an advanced degree or you ask someone that’s a working professional – maybe has a couple of kids – leave your career and come to this full time job, which is an honor to serve,” Karbassi said.
“They still have to pay their mortgage. They still have to save up for their kids’ college. And $85,000, I’m sorry, it’s just not enough to attract the high caliber person we want to make tough decisions to actually raise average salaries and bring more employers forward in this community. I really think that we need to do something to attract people to be able to come here.”
Budget set for approval next week
Any debate that will happen over the budget will take place next week.
The council approved nearly 90 budget motions on Thursday in one act, in turn placing them on next week’s agenda for final adoption into the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget.
That culminated from the last couple weeks of budget hearings at City Hall, with the council putting its own twist on the budget proposed by Mayor Jerry Dyer and his administration.
Arguably the most controversial motion to advance to next week is the possible funding of the anti-gun violence program Advance Peace.
Last week the Dyer Administration cut ties with the program, only for the mayor to do an about-face earlier this week and reopen the door for funding.
The motion, as made by Councilman Miguel Arias, makes Advance Peace eligible to receive $950,000 from the PARCS Department budget.
The following are some other notable motions:
- Identify $500,000 for the acquisition of land for a new fire station in the south industrial area.
- Waive parking fees at regional parks for two years, funded by Measure P carryover
- Directing $200,000 for the immigrant population n to continue the legal defense fund for Fiscal Year 2022-2023
- Adding $100,000 to the LGBTQ Resource Center
- Acquiring the northeast corner of Sunnyside and Church Avenues for a future park
- To establish a police substation at the vacant City of Fresno property at the southwest corner of N. Cornelia and W. Swift Avenues, or a comparable nearby location
- To allocate $50,000 toward a feasibility study of adding a dedicated bus lane on Shaw Ave.
- Allocating $75,000 for LGBTQ anti-discrimination training to all of the staff in the city homeless shelters.
- Allocating $100,000 toward Pinedale neighborhood improvements, including monument signs for its centennial.
- To designate a minimum of one police officer to Motel Drive for the homeless shelters, to be assigned to the Southwest District.
- To allocate $250,000 towards a street racing camera monitoring program along the Herndon Ave. and Kings Canyon corridors
- Allocate $1 million to fund a brand new eight court tournament facility for pickleball at Rotary East Park.
All 89 motions can be viewed here.