The Half Moon Bay City Council gave itself a raise last week, its first since January 2017. Because state law mandates that a council compensation increases can only take effect when at least one new member starts a term of office, the increase won’t be on the books until January 2023.
At that time, each council member will get a 30 percent pay raise, or an additional $220.50 per month. Government code also limits raises to 5 percent of the annual salary from the previous year. Because the last raise was six years ago, a 5 percent increase per annum amounts to an effective 30 percent raise.
The ordinance boosts each council member’s salary from $735 per month to $955.50. Each of the five council members will receive an annual salary of $11,466, bringing the council’s total compensation to $57,330. Council members do not receive any retirement or health benefits.
In 2016, the council’s salary was raised for the first time in 29 years. Prior to that, council members received $300 per month since 1987 before an ordinance raised it to $735 per month. That increase of 145 percent represented a 5 percent increase over the previous 29 years.
There is no standard for compensating elected officials in California. There are examples of city council members making substantially more and much less than those in Half Moon Bay. Some cities offer significant benefits beyond pay.
For example, in the city of San Mateo, city council members earn $7,200 in direct pay but also can receive medical, dental and life insurance benefits as well as retirement plans that bring total compensation to more than $36,000. Meanwhile, in Hillsborough, a wealthy San Mateo County enclave with a similar population to Half Moon Bay, its council members receive no payment, though some do qualify for substantial health benefits.
In Pacifica, city council members were paid about $10,100, and some qualified for five-figure health benefits, according to figures filed with the state.