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With no public resistance, Fresno City Council ups members’ pay

The Fresno City Council, shown in an earlier meeting, will consider hiking its salary when it meets Thursday.
The Fresno City Council, shown in an earlier meeting, will consider hiking its salary when it meets Thursday. Fresno Bee file

Members of the Fresno City Council, some of whom will be new to the dais, are getting a $15,000 pay raise in the new year.

No members of the public spoke out in opposition Thursday when the council voted 5-2 to approve the raises.

District 2 Councilman Steve Brandau, who represents northwest Fresno, and District 7 Councilman Clint Olivier, who represents central Fresno, voted no.

The proposal from District 3 Councilman Oliver Baines increases city council salaries from $65,000 to $80,000. The council president will be paid an additional $5,000.

Baines’ proposal tied the increase to Fresno County Supervisors’ pay, recommending council members be paid 66 percent of the amount supervisors receive. The Fresno County Supervisors’ pay is tied to judges’ pay.

But upon the request of District 6 Councilman Garry Bredefeld, Baines agreed to remove the part tying the raises to judge’s pay.

Bredefeld argued council members should have to vote publicly to raise their pay to be transparent and accountable. “Fresno County supervisors never have to be accountable,” he said. “They never take the tough votes.”

The last time pay was adjusted for council members was 2006.

Baines said council members often work six or seven days a week. Councilman Paul Caprioglio said the public may not realize how much work the council members do.

“Everyone thinks I’m a politician,” Caprioglio said. “I tell them no, I’m a public servant. I’m here to serve the public. Politicians only serve themselves.”

The council received unlikely support for the vote from the Taxpayers Association of Central California.

Jim Cobb, the association’s president, said he hopes the raises help attract the best candidates who are involved and known to the community.

“This is a big job. This is a big city,” he said. “The fact is, it’s way underpaid for what the public expects.”

Still, the raises will only apply to members beginning new terms in January. That means most of the current council members won’t receive them.

Council President Esmeralda Soria, who represents District 1, and Councilman Luis Chavez, who represents District 5 will receive the new rate since they begin new terms in 2019.

Baines and Olivier are termed out and have about a month left in office. Their replacements, newly elected Miguel Arias in District 3 and Nelson Esparza in District 7, will receive the new, higher pay.

Caprioglio and Brandau are in the middle of their second terms and barred by term limits from running again.

Bredefeld would receive the raise if he decides to run for re-election in 2020 and wins.

Brianna Calix: 559-441-6166, @BriannaCalix
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