Modesto City Council members got a raise two years ago amid widespread budget cuts.
An independent commission that could give them another one is about to reconvene.
Council members earn $2,000 a month, up from $800 prior to 2008. Some take less than the allotted salary, opting for voluntary pay cuts or keeping their salary at the $800 rate. The mayor is paid $3,420 a month.
The city's salary-setting commission will scrutinize those numbers at a series of public meetings, then decide whether council pay is too high, too low or just right.
The panel's recommendation is scheduled to go to the City Council on April 27.
Voters created the five-member panel to review council salaries when they passed 2008's Measure M, a set of government reforms that also gave the mayor more influence over the city budget.
The salary-setting commission's 2008 discussions took place against the backdrop of a flagging economy. Nonetheless, the commission members recommended raises to compensate elected officials for the hours they put in for the city.
Two years later, the economy continues to squeeze city budgets. That will no doubt frame part of the commission's discussion, member Dave Thomas said.
Thomas, co-chairman of the Stanislaus Taxpayer Association, said he'd like the panel to consider lowering council salaries because it's likely city employees will face cuts.
He recommended the $2,000 monthly wage the commission adopted. Thomas consistently argued the mayor's salary was being set too high in 2008, but was outvoted by his colleagues.
"The only way you can set a good example as an elected official is to join in," Thomas said. "If we're using razor blades or axes or chain saws on everybody else's salaries, (lowering council pay) ought to at least be part of the discussion."
But Thomas and commission chairman Hugh Rose III, a retired judge, said the group won't make any decisions without plenty of input from the public. The panel is also accepting feedback — in writing — from council members.
Council members aren't required to accept the commission's recommendations. In 2008, council members Brad Hawn and Garrad Marsh opted out of raising their pay to $2,000 a month from $800, citing the city's budget crisis.
The commission's next meeting is March 4 at 11:30 a.m. in Room 6709 at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto.