Op-Ed: City Managers Should Take a 30% Pay Cut
By Eleanor Fowler
While thousands of local residents are out of work, including city employees, the top city managers continue to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A few weeks ago, the City of Santa Barbara announced it would layoff approximately 400 employees due to the COVID-19 crisis. The layoff notice said the City expects a 25% reduction in revenue, approximately $30 - 33 million dollars.
While these employees were let go with no confirmation of being rehired again, the 10 highest-paid city managers continue to receive their bloated salaries and benefits.
A change.org petition exposes the amount these employees are being paid from our tax dollars. The City of Santa Barbara’s City Administrator is compensated at over $379,428.52 a year, nearly twice the take-home pay of California Governor Gavin Newsom, America's highest-paid Governor which is $201,680.00.
The top 10 city executives make between five and ten times that of the average city resident. Many residents work in retail, hospitality, and service industry jobs that have resulted in an immediate job loss for most of them.
The petition says it best, "Many of us believe that true leadership is demonstrated by a willingness to make difficult decisions, including adjusting downward one's own exorbitant salary during a crisis of this magnitude. As an example, Tesla Motors recently reacted to disruptions from the COVID-19 emergency by shared sacrifice throughout the company. Unlike the City of Santa Barbara, Tesla asked those paid the MOST to take the GREATEST financial hit. Top Tesla managers received a minimum 30% pay cut. Why doesn’t Santa Barbara take a page out of Elon Musk’s book requiring shared sacrifice at the top, rather than just furloughing the people at the bottom?"
The average Santa Barbara County residents earn an annual income of $37,692. According to Transparent California, below are the top 10 city manager salaries and benefits per year:
City Administrator $379,428.52
City Attorney $346,609.81
Assistant City Administrator $310,585.62
Community Development Director $282,465.79
Airport Director $237,347.56
Interim Finance Director $192,793.71
Library Director $255,622.64
Parks and Recreation Director $270,371.74
Public Works Director $307,759.02
Waterfront Director $208,688.94
These city leaders whose sole purpose is to serve the people of Santa Barbara, should take a 30% pay cut across the board to help our community bounce bank from this serious economic disaster. After the pay cut, each person would still be earning at least THREE TIMES the amount of an average citizen.
I encourage Santa Barbara residents to sign the petition, and I encourage Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murrillo and the City Council to impose this pay cut until after our city fully recovers.
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