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.


I see the issue as being the health insurance. Why are we paying for health insurance ($1700 a month) for the counsel members? How many of them have health insurance from other sources?

They are now being paid over $2000 a month for a part-time job. I don’t think they should get anything but reimbursement for City related expenses. They should be donating their time as concerned citizens,


Also don’t forget the money they get either from Arroyo Grande or the other entities for attending the other boards and agency meetings, it may only be a few hundred but it adds up.


Getting a pay a pay raise for running the city into the ground??


97% I don’t get it. Why not 100%?

If I ever get a chance to vote myself a payraise, I’m going to exhibit bold leader ship and go for 100%.

But alas….my pay is entirely dependent on my performance, keeping overhead low and working hard. I can’t change the bottom line in my world by voting.

Cause for optimism: If we all worked for the government, we could all vote ourselves higher pay and everyone would prosper! Let’s give everything to the government!


Hmmmm…Looks like people on this thread might have more money than I, so I deserve more, right? It’s the argument used all governing bodies — mostly local and regional — that “comparable pay” is a reasonable measure for determining equitable compensation levels. It’s one of the most creative pieces of BS I’ve seen in a long career wading through it.


Time for recall papers to be filed. Here is a link identifying the procedure.


Voting for a new Mayor in November 2020 election would be much easier. Also voting NO on the sales tax increase and getting 50%+1 to opposed the new water/sewer rates and drainage tax would clip the heals of any discretionary spending.

Attend and speak out at the upcoming Ordinance hearings on the council raises!




Hold them accountable. Don’t give up. Please attend or view your city council meetings and be aware of what they are doing. We the tax payer, employ them. They work for us. Phone calls, voice mails, emails, letters, be in the ear and let them know how you feel. I dealt with a city council in my community years ago who represented only about 30% of our city. We, as a community, eventually cleaned house and are one of the most vibrant cities on the county. Look to people who are common sense based, and are of good morals, values, integrity, character, and honesty. I know those values are not encouraged much any more, but we must start there. Just look no further than the leadership of this state the last 20 years and the disaster that has come upon us. Don’t give up.


This is the cause of the downfall of California. Public employees compare themselves to a city where employees make more, get a raise, and then another city’s employees compare themselves to them. A never ending story of financial ruin to all but public employees.


Dave Congalton has asked me to speak to this subject topic on his radio show Friday at 6:05pm. or 920 on your radio AM dial. Tune in, call in.



I think we all are disappointed with Caren Ray Rossum’s regime, and her poor leadership as mayor of Arroyo Grande is becoming very clear. Taxpayers should not have to fund these exorbitant salaries, and everyone should continue to fight these raises and resist her policies.

Ex mayor Jim Hill was WAY more qualified to lead that Caren Ray Rossum will ever be.

Just saying.