Factoring the Fringe

San Diego city councilmember Carl DeMaio continues his fiscal conservative crusade to drive away San Diego's structural deficit. DeMaio's latest crusade comes in a February 9 letter to the president of the Salary Setting Commission, Mark McMahon, regarding his panel's recommendation to increase the salaries for the mayor and all eight San Diego city councilmembers. DeMaio believes the salary increase is a poor idea, especially considering the city's financial standing.

DeMaio's objections come one week after he and Mayor Sanders went on record in opposition to the salary increases.

"Given the city's current financial situation, I simply cannot agree that a salary increase for the mayor and city council is warranted," read DeMaio's letter. "I would suggest that the dire ramifications of the city's current struggle with unsustainable labor costs takes precedent over the issues the commission raises."

In his letter, DeMaio asserts that the commission failed to include the "generous" pension benefits offered to the city's elected officials. The district 5 councilmember says that the $75,000 salary awarded to councilmembers is not representative of a councilmember's actual compensation, that after "fringe benefits" are included, a councilperson's annual compensation is more like $135,000.

DeMaio says the pension benefit contribution alone, after offset contributions, amounts to $38,190 a year.

The other fringe benefits that DeMaio used to tally the true salary amount includes $7068 a year for "flexible benefits," $2000 for "other post-employment benefits," and $4335 for a Supplemental Pension Savings Plan.

"I would ask that the Salary Setting Commission specifically account for this generous and costly pension plan for elected officials in future analyses before recommending increases in compensation," reads the letter.

He ends the letter calling on his colleagues and Mayor Sanders to reject the Salary Setting Commission's recommendation: "Until the city's financial problems have resolved in a structural fashion, the city's elected officials must continue to lead by example."

The council will vote on whether to accept or reject the panel's recommendations at a future city council meeting.

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He just got my vote. Time to tackle the overblown city worker pensions and restore funding to libraries and maintaining our city!

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