A recent report shows Chula Vista's mayor is one of the highest paid mayors in the state though she runs only the 14th largest city.
An investigation by 10News media partner, the San Diego Union-Tribune, revealed that Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox is compensated $154,105 a year. Only the mayors in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland are paid more. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who is considered a "strong mayor" for the state's second largest city, is paid almost $35,000 less than Cox.
The revelation angered some Chula Vista residents, who have witnessed the city cut more than $40 million from its operating budget in the last four years. Those cuts included laying off more than 500 employees, cutting library hours, decreasing recreation center availability and decreasing salaries.
At the same time, the salaries for Cox and the four Chula Vista council members never changed.
Chula Vista resident Isabelle Espino told 10News she's frustrated by the salaries.
"Is our money being spent wisely and appropriately for the current times we live in?" she asked.
Chula Vista City Manager Jim Sandoval said city law prevents them from lowering the salaries. Chula Vista voters approved Proposition A by a narrow margin in 2000. Prop. A said Chula Vista's mayor would be paid two-thirds or 66 percent of a Superior Court judge's salary. The four council members would each get 40 percent of what the mayor makes. Prop A also made it impossible for the council to raise or decrease its own salary.
"The only way that could occur would be if that went back to the voters and they basically changed the rules and changed the city charter," said Sandoval.
A ballot initiative would be required to make the change. However, the ballot initiative would cost the city about $70,000. Espino said she wouldn't mind, especially after the council asked the public to vote on a sales tax increase in 2009.
"It might cost a lot of money but in the long run, it would save a lot more than it would cost," Espino said. "If they can go to the people to raise taxes, then they can certainly go to the people to change salaries."
Sandoval said the mayor and council has taken steps to cut its own salary any way it can, including agreeing to pay into their own pensions like every other city employee.
"That wasn't required of them," said Sandoval. "It's just something they stepped up and did."
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