Amidst concern from city employees and local citizens the Turlock City Council has tabled its discussion on the creation of a Council Compensation Task Force, which would review current payments of the Mayor, Treasurer and Council, due to poor timing with the city’s labor negotiations.
The Council’s monthly stipend came into consideration in May when Mayor John Lazar voiced concerns that the lack of compensation could serve as a deterrent for candidates to seek election. Generally agreed upon by the Council that the $500 monthly stipend is not reflective of the time each member puts in to fulfill their duties, the creation of a Council Compensation Task Force was considered.
With Turlock’s substantial growth over the past decade, the roles and expectations of the City’s Mayor and Council members have vastly expanded, often requiring 20 hours per week in obligations. Citizens serving on the Turlock City Council receive a stipend of $500 per month — an amount that has remained unchanged since 1999, despite an annual 5 percent increase allowed by state law.
The creation of the Council Compensation Task Force was considered in order to allow each councilmember the opportunity to appoint one individual to the committee that would discuss current compensation rates but the taskforce was dismantled before it was a reality mainly due to the fact that the city is currently in contract negations with its labor units.
“At the previous meeting I registered concern and I’ve got to tell you the concern has not subsided,” said Councilmember Bill DeHart. “We’re right in the middle of contract negotiations with our labor units, we have City Manager and City Attorney considerations… we’ve raised water rates, we’ve adjusted garbage and I just think it’s at this point premature for this council to consider this issue even to the extent of appointing a special committee to assess our status and where would we like to go. I don’t think right now is the appropriate time to do that.”
“This is six years running that we have spent more than we’re bringing in so I’m concerned about even taking the time to look into this,” added Councilmember Amy Bublak.
While the consensus among the council members is that the pay raise is something that needs addressing, it may be something that falls to the next administration to resolve.
“I do like the idea of the committee but maybe it’s something we postpone until next year,” said Councilmember Nascimento.
Also on Tuesday the Turlock City Council:
· Approved a new partnership between the City of Turlock and the Turlock Gospel Mission, which will allow volunteers of the Gospel Mission to perform maintenance at local parks in order to beautify the community while also cultivating job skills. Inspired by a similar relationship between the Turlock Gospel Mission and the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association that has volunteers providing services such as picking up trash and cleaning up graffiti, the unanimously approved partnership will provide the city additional manpower during a period of limited resources while providing the volunteers structured work experience.
“As your Parks and Recreation Director responsible for maintenance of our facilities, I see tremendous value in exploring a partnership with Turlock Gospel mission for similar services,” said Allison Van Guilder, director of Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities. “It seems to be a win-win for both organizations.”
Developed in partnership between Van Guilder, City Attorney Phaedra Norton and Tim Guerino and Robert Smithcamp of Turlock Gospel Mission, participants will be screened and supervised while on site for each maintenance assignment. The city will not assume liability for injury or unintended damage which will be entirely carried by Turlock Gospel Mission.
· The Council approved a resolution to accept the 2014-2015 League of Cities Legislative Platform and authorized City Manager Roy Wasden to send letters in support or opposition of legislation that pertains to the League’s Legislative Platform. The City of Turlock wants legislators, policymakers and the public to know where it stands on important policy positions and to ensure a clear vision the city has adopted the 2014-2014 League of Cities Legislative Platform which sets forth the city’s goals as derived from the City’s Strategic Plan. The Legislative Platform allows that city to respond in support of or opposition to issues that could directly impact the city and reach out to legislators to assist the city in communicating its interests. In February of 2012 the Council wanted to receive legislative information one piece at a time, but according to tighter time frames the Council now authorized Wasden to sign letters on behalf of the Council in a 4-1 vote save for Councilmember Amy Bublak.