SLO City Council members agree to cut their pay

San Luis Obispo City Council members voluntarily reduced their pay this week and offered to begin paying their share of their pension costs, a move that will save the city $8,300 a year.

City Council members said they made the change to show support for city employees, who are being asked to take a 6.8 percent cut in total compensation to balance the city’s budget.

The council spent more than three hours reviewing the policies and procedures manual that governs the five-member council.

The council members agreed to pay the 8 percent of their retirement cost currently being paid by the city. Councilman Dan Carpenter is the only councilmember who has opted out of the retirement benefits.

Until Tuesday, Carpenter and Mayor Jan Marx were the only two council members to have already taken a voluntary cut in pay. The remaining council members also agreed to take salary cuts Tuesday.

Council members typically receive $12,000 annually, and the mayor is entitled to $14,400 annually.

Marx is receiving $1,100 a month and Carpenter is receiving $850 a month. Carpenter will keep the 15 percent pay cut he took prior to those cuts. The new monthly salary for Councilwoman Kathy Smith, councilmembers Andrew Carter and John Ashbaugh is $945.

Council members can only voluntarily change their own pay and benefits; they can not make changes to future council compensation.

A council compensation committee — a five member group appointed by the council — will be convened to look at overall compensation suggestions for future councils in 2012.

The council also voted 3-2 on Tuesday to change the time of City Council meetings to 5 p.m. from 7 p.m. after expressing concern that important discussions are often held too late to expect the public to fully participate.

Smith, Carpenter and Carter voted to change the time.

It isn’t likely to happen soon, however, as it requires a change to an existing city ordinance. The public will also get to weigh in at a future council meeting.

And in a quirky twist prompted by Marx, the council also added a clause to its procedures manual dictating that the mayor can solemnize marriages while in office.

California law allows the mayor to do so. It’s a task Marx said she has only been asked to do once so far.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.