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Fresno City Council to Vote on 23% Raises in Lame Duck Session

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Oliver Baines hopes to give two of his colleagues and two incoming councilmen a parting gift — a 23% raise.
Baines is headed into the last month of his council tenure. He is termed out, with his service concluding Jan. 8, 2019.
“It’s long overdue. I’ve had the privilege and honor of serving for the last eight years.  In know exactly what it takes to do this job.” Baines tells GV Wire. “I know it’s a tough political issue for colleagues of mine to sponsor something like this. I’m happy to do it on their behalf.”
The council on Thursday (Dec. 6) will vote on raising members’ salaries from $65,000 to $80,000. It would apply to any council member beginning a new term after Jan. 1, 2019.
Why $80,000? Baines said there was no particular calculation.
“It deserves more than that, but I thought $80,000 was acceptable. It was more of a political decision, a middle ground of what is acceptable to the public and fair to my colleagues,” Baines said.

Four Members to Benefit

Thus, Esmeralda Soria (District 1) and Luis Chavez (District 5), who won re-election in 2018, would benefit. So would incoming councilmen Miguel Arias (District 3) and Nelson Esparza (District 7).
The city council president would make slightly more, going from $70,169.50 to $85,000, a 21% raise. Steve Brandau (District 2) is next in the predetermined rotation to serve as council president in 2019. But, he would not be eligible for the pay bump because he is not starting a new term in office.
The council last gave itself a raise in 2006, a hike of 46%. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculator, $65,000 in July 2006 is worth $80,774.08 today.

Current Plan Tied to Supervisors

The plan as it stands now would tie future raises to 66% of what the Fresno County Board of Supervisors make. Currently, that amount is $124,454 (66% is $82,139.64). Those raises would be in effect with each new term.
The supervisors’ salary is pegged to the amount a state judge makes, 60% of that base salary, which is currently $207,424. That board policy has been in place since 1994.
In turn, judge’s salary increases are tied to the average raise of all state employees.
However, Baines said he’s likely to scrap that portion, and let future councils decide on their own pay raises.

Second Try

Baines proposed a near-exact measure in Dec. 2017, only to pull it at the start of the meeting. At the time he wanted the process to be more thought out and find a better way to explain it to the public.
The only change in the proposal is the tie-in with the board of supervisors. In Baines’ 2017 plan, it was pegged at 78%. Now, it is just 66%.
The item is scheduled for consent calendar, but is likely will be pulled for further discussion. Baines said its inclusion on consent, which usually does not merit extended debate, was a clerical mistake on his part.
The mayor’s salary will remain at $130,000.

Brandau Says He Will Likely Oppose Raises

Brandau tells GV Wire he is likely to vote no. He also plans to run for the Fresno County supervisor seat, vacated by Andreas Borgeas, who is being sworn in as state Senator today (Dec. 3).
Councilman Garry Bredefeld (District 6) told KMJ radio he has problems supporting the measure if it is tied to the Board of Supervisors.

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email