Salary increase for Town Council

mltc3_5_14With an argument that they have excluded the less wealthy in Mammoth Lakes from a seat on the Town Council, a majority of members voted to proceed to raise the $300 per month pay to the Government Code allowed $735.

Town Manager Dan Holler said he and the staff have had questions about the Council pay from some who would run for office. He said the salary was set in 1985 and never raised. He added that Councilmembers do receive health insurance. On average, Holler said, about $17,000 per year. He made it clear that under State law for a city of Mammoth’s size, the pay can go up 5% per year. That would allow the Council to raise the monthly pay to $735, which is 5% for 29 years. The other options called for a ballot measure or switching to a Charter City. Town Attorney Andy Morris called the charter option  “swatting a fly with a battleship.”

John Eastman made it clear he would not support a pay raise. Matthew Lehman said he was “very supportive.” He said, “This is not to make money but prevent a Town Council member from losing money. There are a lot of people,” said Lehman, “of certain demographics who want their voice heard. They are discouraged if they spend so much time that they lose money.” Councilman Lehman said this would encourage younger people, and a different spectrum of people, to run for office.

Michael Raimondo agreed. Jo Bacon said it’s like a job running a corporation at very little salary. Said Bacon, “I agree totally with Matthew Lehman.” Mayor Rick Wood said the pay raise would amount to a $30,000 budget increase. Said Wood, “I don’t want to do this until we have a budget discussion. Jo Bacon pointed out that if the Council waited until budget time, a vote on a pay raise would not take effect until June of 2016. If they voted immediately, the pay increase would become effective after this June’s election.

Eastman said it sends the wrong message to the Town Staff and to the community. Said Eastman, “We have a tremendous population of workers for whom things are not going well.” He named three years of below normal precipitation and the recession. Said Rick Wood, “We don’t run for Town Council for the money.”

Matthew Lehman said he agreed but held his ground on “another demographic that can’t afford to hold office.” Lehman made a motion to move forward with a pay raise to $735 per month that would be “effective as soon as legally possible.” Jo Bacon offered a second. The motion passed on a 3 to 2 vote with Eastman and Wood voting no.

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14 Responses to Salary increase for Town Council

  1. susan english March 10, 2014 at 12:00 am #

    to john startz,

    I understand your perspective and we’re both entitled to our opinions. Just wondering though why I don’t see your name on the ballot either. I have my reasons…I’m a single parent, working two jobs already, trying to raise a family, barely making ends meet to pay rent and put food on the table. I drive an old car that desperately needs repairs I can’t afford yet. I often miss out on my kids activities & helping with homework in the evening because I’m working. I don’t have enough time in the day as it. Yeah, it’s a tough grind but I’m proudly working as hard as I can to dig out and it’s worth every second of it to keep my family going. So no, I don’t have the luxury of time or energy to add anything else on my plate such as town council. But I can still have my voice heard in some small way by voting in elections and through these comments and I stand by what I said in my previous post. I also agree with Charles O Jones second comment.

    The article mentions Mayor Wood suggested having further budget discussions about it but as Jo Bacon pointed out, that would have delayed it taking effect until 2016 whereas an immediate vote would allow the raise to take effect later this year. She’s one of the two current council members who wouldn’t reap the benefit of the raise for themselves while still in office if it were discussed further and therefore delayed until 2016. Hmmm, self serving is exactly what came to mind as I read that.

  2. susan english March 9, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Once again town council acts on something that the public in general disagrees with but has no say in the matter. Two of the three who voted for the raise are remaining in office so they stand to benefit the most from voting for it. The two no votes are outgoing town council members not up for reelection. Talk about self serving….

    • John Startz March 9, 2014 at 6:42 pm #


      You are calling two out of three that voted for the increase self serving, really? The deadline has been extend to Wednesday at 5pm, go pull your papers and run for council, its that simple, donate endless hours and take endless punches from people on the chat boards, at council meetings anytime the council does something a person or group does not like for $300 or $735 a month whatever, love thje council when they vote your way!

      THE COUNCIL HAS NEVER HAD A RAISE since the town incorporated, think about that for one second, a council with leadership has FINALLY got it done for future community leaders to get out and run and to commit endless volunteer hours for all $735 a month, yippee ,skippee! Get real, stop the bashing, stop the complaining, get to the Town Offices by Wednesday at 5pm, maybe you and other complainers can overturn the measly increase of the “self serving” council members and turn the pay back to $300, good luck!

      • skiJohn March 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

        BRAVO, John!!! I couldn’t have said it better.

      • Changing Times March 10, 2014 at 5:50 am #

        Whatever happened to the time when our elected officials were interested in public service – not money?

      • Charles O. Jones March 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

        Any candidate that will do it for $735 but not for $300 does not deserve anyones vote. It’s not about the money. I respect all the hard work council members contribute. And you’re right, it’s not easy being the one to make the hard decisions. But if they’re doing it for the cash – they’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

  3. SkiJohn March 7, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    Two meetings a month?? I don’t know about the other council members, but I know Lehman spends 30+ hours a week. There are countless other committees, boards etc he sits on, not mention numerous emails, phone calls and walk ins into his office daily that takes him away from his job. If $300 a month is acceptable, then why didn’t we have more people run last time? I wouldn’t do it for $735 a month. Who can live off that?? What do other council members make in similar towns? I bet a lot more…

    • Charles O. Jones March 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      Of course you can’t live on it, it’s not intended to be a living wage. Council positions are public service. Would you vote for someone who would do it for $735 but not for $300? I wouldn’t.

      I really don’t have a problem with the amount, but when the council cut and slashes bu

      • Charles O. Jones March 8, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

        My previous message was cut of early??…

        To continue: When the council slashes budgets, cut positions and then turns around and gives themselves a big fat raise – it just sends the wrong message and it shows very poor leadership.

  4. Curious March 7, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Over 2000 dollars a month more all for two meetings a month?

    I propose we change the name of this town to Shysterville !

  5. Really ? March 7, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Really ? Let’s see who would do it for Free.

    • Really? March 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

      This is a different Really? not me

  6. Charles O. Jones March 7, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    Fewer cops on the street, heavily in debt, and council more than doubles their own pay – got it.

    • Ken Warner March 7, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

      I know. It’s like when the bank exec’s gave themselves bonuses off the TARP funds. Real forehead slapper….


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