Elk Grove City Council To Consider Raising Taxes, Giving Themselves Pay Raises

July 25, 2016 |

In a meeting that could be a significant issue for this fall's local elections, the Elk Grove City Council will consider raising local sales taxes by up to one-percent as well as giving themselves a substantial pay raise.

The five councilmen will consider whether or not to raise sales taxes by either one-half cent or a full percent. According to the staff report for the matter, the city says it needs the money to plug several self-inflicted financial holes facing the city including an $8 million annual road maintenance deficit.

The road maintenance issue was first revealed to the public by former Elk Grove Public Works Director Richard Shepard almost three years ago. At a December 2013 meeting Shepard told the City Council the City is facing $8 million in deferred maintenance that left unaddressed, would lead to serious structural problems.

At the time the Council consciously decided to continue neglecting road maintenance in the hope of a countywide sales tax increase measure by the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) to fund this activity. Although the STA did not pursue the matter in 2014, it will be placing a countywide one-half cent 30-year sales tax increase on this November's ballot that will require a super majority 66-percent approval to pass.  

Although the staff report said the tax increase could be utilized for neglected road maintenance, because it is a general sales tax increase, it could be used for any purpose as determined by the City Council. Also, as proposed, the sales tax increase will only need 50-percent majority for approval. 

In addition to considering a sales tax increase measure, the City Council will also consider asking taxpayers for a substantial pay increase. The idea was presented by Mayor Gary Davis at their July 13 meeting.

Davis, who will be leaving office in December, initially requested examining the possibility of making the Mayor a full-time position. During their discussion on the matter, Councilman Steve Detrick suggested expanding the examination to include city council member.

When he made the request, Davis suggested the pay for a full-time mayor be in line with that of an Elk Grove Police Department Lieutenant or high school principal. According to the staff report prepared by City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs and City Manager Laura Gill, the pay rate for the two positions are up to $145,359 and $139,247 respectively.

In their analysis, Gill and Hobbs pointed to similarly sized California general law cities such as Fremont. With a population greater than Elk Grove, and a directly elected Mayor, Fremont mayoral annual salary is $26,532 and council members $16,884.

Currently, the Mayor and four Council Members are paid $9,600 annually.

During the July 13 meeting, Davis implied the mayoral position would be a full-time job with regular business hours while Detrick was not as specific regarding business hours for council members. The Gill-Hobbs report addressed comparable pay rates and procedures to approve higher wages but did not address business hours or new expectations should the Mayor and Council Members be paid a higher salary.

If the Council decides to pursue the matter, it will have to call a special meeting by August 12 to make the November election. Additionally, the City Council could bypass voters and approve higher pay rates for themselves by ordinance.

Wednesday meeting starts at 6 p.m.

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