Arroyo Grande Council votes to raise mayor’s pay 97 percent

November 14, 2019

Mayor Caren Ray


Following pleas from the public not to raise their salaries, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday to give themselves a 60 percent increase and Mayor Caren Ray-Russom a 97 percent increase in pay. [Cal Coast Times]

Ray-Russom, Councilman Keith Storton and Councilwoman Kristen Barneich voted in favor of raising the stipend from $405 to $648 for the four council members and to $798 for the mayor. Ray-Russom said she sought the stipend increase because other city councils were receiving more money

During public comment, residents rebutted Ray-Russom’s argument, noting the council’s benefit package has increased by more than 60 percent. The councils medical benefits are the second highest in the county.

Sandra Bochicchio voiced her anger at the child-like behavior of council members.

“How dare you even think about giving yourself a raise when we are in a financial hole,” Bochicchio said. “You have done research and presented evidence of other city official compensation. But this is like little Johnny going to his parents, ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy, I want this toy because all my friends have it.’ Just because Tommy has that toy does not mean that you need to have it.”

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

Ray-Russom said in the next 15 years she would have to replace her roof, which she is not setting money aside for. She then compared the city not having money set aside for needed capital improvements as the same as her not saving money for a new roof.

“We have a balanced budget,” Ray-Russom said. “The reason that we are asking or potentially looking at other things, is when you hear that, next I want you to be listening and hearing to that roof savings.”

Both Ray-Russom and Storton said that the raises were needed to attract a younger and diverse council.

Barneich argued that she was not receiving her entire stipend, because the city was keeping part of it to pay for her family’s monthly insurance premiums, on top of the $1,707 the city is already paying for Barneich’s family’s insurance costs.

Both Councilwoman Lan George and Councilman Jimmy Paulding voted no, saying it was the wrong time to raise council pay.

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The real ‘quid pro quo’ political criminal is Caren Rae Rossum, so impeach HER.

Support good government, support recall.

Enough is enough.

$405 stipend to $648/798 stipend, BFD. The critics here need to get a life. I spend more than the difference in a one meal with my spouse and family. Seriously, INVENT a story by reporting it as a percentage.

Shame, shame, shame. This seems to be the way it goes in Arroyo Grande. Fail to manage the books, don’t meet budget, so chase your constituents for money to cover your ineptitude and increase your pay while you are at it. The Fire Chief did it, so now you want your cut. Let’s look at how the other cities are doing financially, not just how they are paying and once AG can balance its books like the other cities, maybe you could legitimately ask for a pay rise. The others balance their books, and if comparing the bottom line, do NOT make more than you chancers do. But, I forget, you do not ask for a pay raise; you just vote yourselves one.

Caren, no worries about your roof repair – you will find a scam to get that done and you will rationalize that you really don’t get paid enough, so it’s OK, and the citizens of AG will pay – again. The principle behind the ‘public service’ you provide is that it is just that – your service to your community, not a get-rich proposition. You and Storton are already getting rich on the public purse with guaranteed retirements as a police officer and teacher. Remember this, voters, in 2020 and 2022.

Caren Ray is an SLO Progressive and Hash House Harrier, forget Arroyo Grande, SLO Progressive/RRM offices are in San Luis Obispo. She is joint mayor of both cities with Heidi Harmon.

What most Arroyo Grande citizens don’t realize is they’re minds are already made up before they go into council meetings. The citizens can say all they want, it’s not going to change councils minds. Can’t anyone see this?

That’s probably true for most councils. People don’t usually go into to politics to serve the community; they go into it to get what they want.