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Last Tuesday, the Lynwood City Council voted in favor of increasing the monthly compensation of its members from $780 to $975. The council has not had an increase since February 2008. State law permits the council to increase its compensation by 5 percent for each year since the last increase.
The raise was passed with three votes in favor and two against. The increase will be introduced after the November 2013 council elections.
“The council is the lowest paid of anyone,” said councilmember Jim Morton, who voted in favor of the raise. Morton expressed being bemused about why particularly the two other municipally elected officials, the city clerk and city treasurer, make more than councilmembers. “That doesn’t make sense.”
According to Lynwood Mayor Sal Alatorre, who was citing a municipal report, the city clerk and city treasurer currently make $1000 a month.
Alatorre, who voted in favor of the raise, said the difference in pay between Lynwood elected officials as “unfair,” while adding that they should be the same.
That being said, Alatorre stated that this increase meant that the monthly allowance of councilmembers would still be $25 less than that of the city clerk and treasurer.
Lynwood’s Mayor Pro Tempore, Ramon Rodriguez, also voted in favor of the increase. Stating that the raise was small for an almost 24 hour job.
“I think it is fair that the council should get at least 39 dollars extra a month” said Rodriguez, who said that the work was demanding and essentially fulltime. “It is not a lot of money.”
Rodriguez also maintained that Lynwood has among the lowest councilmember salaries when compared to its surrounding cities.
That being said, not all of Lynwood’s councilmembers believed that this raise was appropriate.
“I don’t think it is good time to increase,” said councilmember Maria Santillan, who cited that the city’s finances coupled with a prior decision to give a 3 percent increase to several city employees as a reason for waiting. “I rather we don’t do it now.”
Councilmember Aide Castro concurred with Santillan and also voted against the increase.
“Not only is this not the right timing, [but] I think when we all ran for the position we understood what the pay was, ” said Castro. “This sends the wrong message.”
Alatorre and Castro are the only two members of the Lynwood City Council who will not have to run for city council in the up and coming municipal elections of November 2013.
Both will have to make a decision as to whether they want to receive the increase or not. Castro stated during the meeting that she would not receive it.
“Let the record reflect that I will be declining the increase,” said Castro.
Out of the three members of council whose terms are about to expire only two made it clear that they would not accept an increase.
Santillan told Patch that she would not accept the raise if re-elected. While Rodriguez told Patch that he will not be running for re-election and that the increase will have no effect on him.
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-The following corrections have been made to a previous version of this article. The city treasurer and city clerk will still make a monthly salary that is $25 more and not less then the councilmembers after the increase. This increase will also result in $975 a month for councilmembers, and not $819.