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Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Measure A
City Council Salary
City of Mountain View

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 9657 / 61.15% Yes votes ...... 6136 / 38.85% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 28 11:41am, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (38/38)
Information shown below: Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Should the City of Mountain View amend Section 503 of the City Charter to set the base salary of City Council at $1,000 per month, with an automatic annual adjustment, to become effective on January 1, 2015?

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote on this measure means:
A YES vote means that the proposed Charter Amendment should be adopted.

A NO vote on this measure means:
A NO vote means that the Charter should remain unchanged.

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney
Mountain View Charter Section 503 establishes the amount of the compensation for the City Council members. Existing Section 503 provides that the monthly salary for each Mountain View Councilmember is based on salary ranges provided in state law for general law cities. State law sets council salaries based on the size of the city. The current monthly salary is $600 and the Mayor receives twenty-five percent (25%) additional salary or $750. The voters last amended this charter provision in 1984.

If adopted, this ballot measure would amend Section 503 to replace the current provision with a baseline monthly salary for each Councilmember at $1,000 with the Mayor receiving an additional twenty-five percent (25%). The proposed charter amendment would go into effect on January 1, 2015. The monthly salary would thereafter be adjusted annually based on the lesser of the San Francisco Bay Area Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners or the average cost-of-living adjustment granted to the City's miscellaneous employee bargaining groups. The annual adjustment could not exceed five percent (5%) per year.

Measure A also adds clarifying language based on state law regarding the calculation of the salary for Councilmembers. It provides that any amounts paid to a Councilmember for retirement, health and welfare, or federal social security benefits would not be included in the monthly salary calculation provided these same benefits are available and paid by the City for its employees. "Under the current charter provision, the salary of a Councilmember is reduced by twenty-five dollars ($25) for each meeting not attended unless that person is absent on official duty with the consent of or on order of the City Council. If this measure is adopted, a Councilmember's salary would only be reduced when he or she misses a regular meeting unless that person is absent on official duty with the consent of or on order of the City Council." Finally, Measure A retains language in existing Section 503 providing that the City Council has no power to increase the salary by ordinance, resolution or motion and that any further increase would have to be approved by the voters through a charter amendment.

This measure was placed on the ballot by the governing body of the City.

Prepared by: /s/ Jannie L. Quinn
City Attorney

  News and Analysis

Mountain View Voice

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Arguments For Measure A Arguments Against Measure A
In November, Mountain View voters will decide whether to set the salary of the City Council at $1,000 per month. We encourage you to VOTE YES!

Council pay was initially set at $250 in 1968 and was increased by the voters to $500 in 1984 by adopting the State's population-based pay scale. Adjusted for inflation, the original $250 would be $1,700 today, and the $500 wage would be $1,140. Neighboring cities have either already changed or are considering updating their council salaries. Sunnyvale's council salary is now $2,194 per month, and a Palo Alto Council committee recently recommended adjusting their salary to $1,000.

Councilmembers' responsibilities have expanded significantly as the City has grown. Councilmembers spend 20 to 30 hours a week on council duties, which include preparing for and attending weekly Council meetings and study sessions, serving on Council Committees, and representing the City's interests on regional agency boards. Additionally, Councilmembers attend numerous community forums and events, respond to public inquiries, and meet with constituents regarding the many issues important to Mountain View residents.

Those who devote their time to public service deserve fair compensation. We believe a modest adjustment to $1,000 a month may increase the diversity of the Council and more fairly compensate its members.

In summary, approving this measure will:

  • Set the council salary at $1,000 per month
  • Adjust the salary annually to the lesser of the Bay Area CPI, or the average cost-of-living increase for the City's nonpublic safety employees, not to exceed 5% per year
  • Authorize the absence of a Councilmember from a regular meeting with the Mayor's consent or for official city business

We ask you to VOTE YES to ensure that Mountain View is represented by diverse, caring and hardworking Councilmembers who will devote the time and energy necessary to lead our city.

/s/Chris Clark

/s/ John McAlister
Vice Mayor

/s/ Oscar Garcia
CEO, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce & Resident

/s/Nick Galiotto
Former Mayor

/s/ Joan MacDonald
Resident & Community Volunteer

Rebuttal to Arguments For
In their argument, proponents FAIL TO DISCLOSE to voters that City Councilmembers actually receive compensation far beyond their base salary.

Without an opposition argument, there would have been no rebuttal arguments, and voters would have been left with the false impression that the base salary is all that Councilmembers receive.

Among the benefits of "serving" as Councilmembers (listed in the opposition argument) is the power to make important decisions that affect all city residents (including themselves). So, for example, as Councilmembers have permitted more and more office space in Mountain View, the demand for housing has skyrocketed-along with the price of homes and the opportunity for landlords to raise rents.

All 7 current members of the City Council are homeowners and are benefitting from soaring home prices. Most Mountain View residents are renters; many are being priced out of the city. (Of course, there are other factors pushing up housing prices-especially in the Bay Area).

Any claim that raising the base salary of Councilmembers is needed to inspire citizens to run for the office is undermined by the many persons who have taken out papers to run for 3 seats up for election on the City Council this November.

There is no shortage of candidates. An extra $400/month should not be expected change who runs for the office.

Pay more in salary? NO. Pay more attention to local government? YES.

/s/ Gary Wesley

The constitution of the City of Mountain View, called the "city charter," contains a provision which fixes the salaries of the 7 members of the elected City Council. Each Councilmember may receive $600/month in salary-while the member who is selected by the Council to serve as "mayor" for the year may receive an extra 25%.

In June 2014, the City Council voted 4-2 (with one member absent) to place on the November ballot this proposed amendment to the city charter which would increase the base salary for Councilmembers to $1,000/month and provide for later increases based on inflation and not to exceed 5% per year.

First of all, keep in mind that the salary is not the only compensation received by our city councilmembers.

Councilmembers also qualify for: (1) all city benefits paid to full-time city employees; (2) expense accounts and reimbursements for authorized travel; (3) VIP tickets to the Shoreline Amphitheatre; (4) communication equipment; and (5) stipends for attending regional board meetings.

Even more significantly, city councilmembers receive the authority to make critical decisions that affect the whole community (including themselves).

In addition, councilmembers can use their positions to make potential business contacts and build a political resume and campaign contributors to run for higher office.

Proponents of this measure properly bear the burden of showing that the proposed salary increased is justified-given the many other benefits received.

/s/Gary Wesley
Long-time resident

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Mountain View deserves the best city council we can elect. Our diverse city will benefit from a council which reflects our makeup+ethnic, racial, socioeconomic and age. The current $600 monthly salary equals about $5 per hour for the average 30+ hours a week spent by councilmembers. Increasing the pay to $1,000 per month might be enough for working people with limited income to consider running for council. For example, parents might be better able to afford childcare during council meetings or other required events.

Serving on Mountain View's council is not a volunteer job, nor should it be. The current allowances and benefits referenced by the opposition are standard and reasonable and not increased by this measure. For example, the purchase allowance for equipment like tablets and computers is essential for fulfilling today's civic duties and reduces printing costs. Travel reimbursement for regional meetings and official business is standard practice. Such expenses are subject to limits and scrutinized like other city employee reimbursements. The health and other benefits offered to councilmembers are the same as those offered to non-bargained city employees and only available while in office.

Serving on city council is a significant responsibility, and we should fairly compensate those willing to serve our community. Voters last set council pay in 1984. Mountain View deserves a diverse, well-balanced Council that is accessible to all residents, not just candidates who can afford to serve.

Vote YES to promote fairness and diverse representation.

/s/ Joan MacDonald
Resident & Community Volunteer

/s/Chris Clark

/s/ Oscar Garcia
CEO, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce & Resident

Full Text of Measure A
Section 503. Compensation.

Each member of the city council shall receive as salary, each month, that sum which has been established by the electorate as of November 4, 2014, as the baseline salary amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000) per month with automatic annual adjustments based on the lesser of the San Francisco Bay Area Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners or the average cost-of-living adjustment granted to the miscellaneous city employee bargaining groups and not to exceed five percent (5%) per year. The mayor shall receive as salary, each month, that amount as calculated for a councilmember above, plus an additional twenty-five percent (25%) of said sum. Any amounts paid to a councilmember for retirement, health and welfare, and federal Social Security benefits shall not be included for purposes of determining salary pursuant to this section provided the same benefits are available and paid by the city for its employees. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the city council shall have no power to increase its salary by ordinance, resolution or motion. If a member of the city council, or mayor, does not attend all regular meetings of the city council called on order of the city council and held during the month, that person's salary for such month shall be reduced by the sum of twenty-five dollars ($25) for each regular meeting not attended unless that person is absent with the consent of the mayor or for official city business.

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Created: July 23, 2015 14:58 PDT
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