SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The pomp and circumstance will be virtual this year, but the money incoming Mayor Todd Gloria and the nine City Council members will take home is very real.
Starting Thursday, the city will pay its mayor $206,000 a year -- more than double outgoing Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s roughly $101,000 salary.
Meanwhile, City Council salaries will jump from $75,000 a year to $124,000 overnight. That's a 65 percent raise; it increases to $155,000 on Dec. 10, 2022.
The timing may seem odd, given the pandemic's impact on jobs and our economy, and the fact that major city general fund revenues are projected to be about $10 million under budget this fiscal year. But it turns out San Diego voters authorized these pay increases back in 2018 via Measure L, which voters passed with 78 percent approval.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Gloria said he would accept the full salary.
"Nearly 80 percent of San Diego voters agreed that the adjustments to the salaries of San Diego elected officials was the right thing to do. The City’s budget will be balanced while we implement the will of the voters," said spokeswoman Jen Lebron.
San Diego attorney Bob Ottilie, who authored the measure, said in the end it will improve how the city is run.
“We're going to have a better quality of governance because of this,” said Ottilie.
The measure eliminated the council’s ability to set salaries and instead tied the mayor, city council and city attorney salaries to those of Superior Court judges, amid other ethics reforms. Ottlie began pushing for the change after the council approved the infamous Chargers ticket guarantee in the 1990s.
“Think of how many parks, rec centers, libraries, after-school hour programs for kids you can fund with that kind of money," he said. "So you get smart people on the council that are real business people that aren't going gaga over a sports franchise or something else, and you save the city a lot of money."
But former City Councilman Carl DeMaio says voters were misled because Measure L’s ballot language was not overt about the large pay raises. He takes issue with its title: Charter amendments regarding ethics and compensation for elected officials.
“If voters knew that they were voting to give a massive salary increase to mayor and council it would have probably got 10 percent vote,” he said.
But Ottilie said all of the key information was in ballot materials sent to voters. He said he already noticed the higher quality of candidates for the 2020 election, noting several possess advanced degrees.
The City Attorney’s salary will increase from $194,000 to $206,000 per year, starting Thursday.