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Sonora Council Narrowly Okays Pay Raises

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Sonora, CA — With a 3-2 vote, the Sonora City Council voted to raise the pay for the mayor and council members.

Effective next July, the Mayor will receive $262 per month and the council will receive $218. It is up from the current $150 for the mayor and $125 for council members.

Mayor Mark Plummer and Councilmember Suzanne Cruz were opposed. Plummer referenced the passage of the recent sales tax increase, noting, “The optics of it are awful (pay raise). We have the public trust, and they trusted us at nearly two-thirds, to manage their money wisely, and increase personal taxes to save the city.”

Councilmember Cruz stressed how the council’s role is public service.

Vice Mayor Ann Segerstrom, and council members Matt Hawkins and Andy Merrill were in favor. They spoke about the need to attract more people to run for office, so that it is not just a job for retired members of the community. Hawkins noted that he and Plummer will not receive the raise, because they are not running for re-election. He noted that council members have the option of declining the stipend entirely or donating the money to community organizations. Vice Mayor Segerstrom added that young people, “can’t even afford a babysitter at the current rate.”

The city council last adjusted pay in 2009, nearly cutting it in half at the time, and doing away with council member health benefits, during the recession. The council members still do not receive any city benefits in addition to the stipend.

The pay increase will take effect for all members of the council beginning on July 1st.