Arroyo Grande City Council seeks a 60 percent pay raise

November 9, 2019

Mayor Caren Ray Russom


The Arroyo Grande City Council will consider granting itself a 60 percent pay raise at its meeting on Tuesday, according to the agenda. [Cal Coast Times]

In September, Mayor Caren Ray-Russom asked staff to review council member salaries because other city councils were receiving more money. City council stipends were originally provided to cover the cost of attending meetings, but have since grown to include large benefit packages.

And while Arroyo Grande’s $405 monthly city council pay is the lowest, their medical package is the second largest in San Luis Obispo County, making their monthly pay with benefits in the upper range.

Monthly pay with health benefits for a council member and two dependents:

Arroyo Grande – $2,122

Atascadero – $1,414

Grover Beach – $600

Morro Bay – $1,138

Paso Robles – $2,158

Pismo Beach – $2,875

San Luis Obispo – $2,596

While looking to increase their monthly pay, the city council is also working to raise residential utility bills.

Currently experiencing a $3.5 million shortfall for infrastructure repairs, city officials are considering raising water and wastewater rates, and initiating a stormwater management tax.

On Tuesday, the council will consider four options: vote to increase their salaries by 60 percent; vote to increase council member salaries by 60 percent, and the mayor by more than 60 percent; make no changes; or provide staff with different instructions.


They make less than a construction laborer does, hate to say it, but they deserve the raise!!!

The City has less than 100 employees!


To be a city council person or mayor is a volunteer position. Not a “day” job. The point of service is to SERVE! To consider a raise while at the same time asking ratepayers to pay more to live in Arroyo Grande flies in the face of the ratepayer. If the ratepayer suffers, so should the council.

Note to council: Live within your means! Your benefit packages are already too much for the public to bear. Do not compare your city to Pismo Beach, compare it to Grover Beach…modest pay, no benefits!



You are 100% correct and likely lead a happy life given your stated position/attitude.

From: citizensoldier

To: “jcallaway” , “Dana Swanson” , “scollins”

Cc: “citizensforaffordableliving” , “council”

Sent: Monday, November 11, 2019 12:55:06 PM

Subject: Callaway or Schrantz, which is it?

Ms. Callaway or is it Schrantz,

Why are you using two different identities?

Ms. Swanson,

It is becoming clearer why the city manager is pushing so hard for the “cost doesn’t matter” solution for Morro Bay’s Fix-it Ticket.

How are you coming along with the uploading of the November 6, 2019 Special Meeting to the city’s YouTube page?

At these “prices” one would expect a little more than a Mayberry “RFDitis” performance, don’t you think/agree?




Are you kidding? A construction laborer gets up at 4AM to be at the job by 6 0r 7 works his or her hands raw for 8 to 10 hours then goes home to get something to eat and maybe a shower only to get up again the next morning and do it again. Just because they wear clean close and speak from behind a desk for a few hours a month you suggest they should make more. ?.


Boldguy, Your bias for being cared for by government is showing. That kind of thinking, left unchecked, will ruin your posterity’s future, needlessly.


Government hasn’t cared for me one bit, quite the opposite in fact:)

My point was, in the grand scheme of things they get very little for what’s asked of them!

Until you’ve done the job of being a public official, spent the time to do the job, incurred the out of pocket costs running around for your constituents, enough to pay their expenses i just didn’t see as a bad thing:)

60% of not much is still not a heck of a lot!

Of course bashing politicians is a grand sport in our country, it’s no wonder we get such poor choices:(


Public Pensions are a big problem, made worse by actions coming from low information voters.


They’re called democrats, they get elected and they depend on government to get them they’re raises and free stuff they can get away with. They always get something for something, quid quo pro folks.


Tell that to your tax dollar paid for veterans, fire man, utility workers, police and so on and so on. Your last statement has been recently famous due to one of the few persons ever facing impeachment, and it wasn’t for his adulterous cover ups with 2 porn stars while married.

Cal Coast News

Find out what the health and welfare benefits package is for Arroyo Grande employees?

We have known for years that Ms.Baneich was getting $1,700.00 a month of insurance while her firefighter husband passed on his city benefit package – fatten their wallet at the City’s expense.

Are the City Council enjoying benefits greater than their employees?

If all employees receive this much than Whoppie! They have gold .

No wonder the City can’t fix the streets!


That very information is on page 5 of the staff report (link included).

It comes to $20,606 . . . PER PERSON . . . PER YEAR that the taxpayers of AG are paying for health coverage.

Now, factor in what the taxpayers of Santa Maria are paying both Ray and Barneich to NOT use the health coverage provided. They are getting THAT money in their paychecks, as ‘in lieu’ cash.

The taxpayer’s pockets are the cash cows for them to continually milk dry.


The unspoken part of the “benefits” package is this – Kristen Barneich has the ability to have health insurance for her ENTIRE FAMILY through her husband’s employment – it’s automatic for him as the battalion chief at the City of Santa Maria. What they have elected to do is have the residents of Santa Maria pay him IN LIEU of taking the insurance coverage. In other words, he gets the value paid to him in his paycheck, courtesy of those Santa Maria taxpayers. Because the Barneich family makes that financial choice, the residents of the city of Arroyo Grande are footing the bill for Mrs. Barneich to have coverage for her ENTIRE FAMILY. That’s called “double dipping” and now taxpayers in TWO cities pay for ONE family’s health insurance. Fair? Worth ANOTHER 60%? Council member Caren Ray is in the same “benefits” boat (or was the last time it was checked via public records requests). She is a school teacher who received HER health insurance ‘in lieu’ (meaning it’s cold hard cash in her paycheck), courtesy of the Santa Maria school district taxpayers and it’s in her stipend also, courtesy of Arroyo Grande taxpayers. Again, double dipping the system. Fair? These links are amounts reflecting one year’s wage and benefits (2018 for Barneich and 2017 for Ray)…/santa…/caren-b-ray/…/michael-barneich/



Thank you for sharing the useful linkage. “It’s a good thing” when factual information is included with comments.

You are in my book.


When the ship is sinking the captain and crew are not deserving of a raise and should be embarrassed to even discuss it.


Interesting city to city comparisons.

Do the conspiracy theory haters like Liz Doukas, still think the city of Grover Beach is ripping them off?


I wonder what would happen if it was your vote that stopped this BS? Wow….


ATF, You are onto something good. Elections have consequences. The less indoctrinated and more educated the voter, the better.

“Citizens get the government they deserve.”~citizensoldier

“Be a free thinker and don’t accept everything you hear as truth. Be critical and evaluate what you believe in.”~Aristotle


60? Well, that’s fair.


sarcasm, people.


Are you kidding me? Vote themselves a pay raise? Where do I sign up for a job like that???


Yo Kalifornia_Bud,

Low information voters, strike again.