A Long Beach Parks and Recreation Committee meeting from June 2015. Members of this committee could be paid $75 per meeting under a new compensation model. Photo by Jason Ruiz

Long Beach city commissioners could be in line for a pay raise after the City Council voted Tuesday night to move forward with a recommendation to increase the compensation for commissioners, most of whom were not paid in the past.

That could change after Tuesday’s vote that instructed city staff to prepare documents that would change the pay structure for commissioners already being compensated for their time and begin paying those committee members who currently volunteer.

Of the over 250 commissioners and committee members that the city utilizes to sort through policy before it makes it to the City Council for approval only about 70 were paid under the current structure.

The option selected by the council would pay charter commissioners like those that serve on the harbor, planning, water and parks and recreation commissions $200 a meeting with a cap of $7,000 per commissioner annually.

It would also pay City Council appointed committee members, most of whom were unpaid could now make $50 per meeting with a cap of $1,000 annually for each member. The option set aside three bodies (economic development commission, airport advisory commission, Long Beach Transit board of directors) to make $75 per meeting with the same cap of $1,000 per member.

City commissioners could receive pay boost if City Council approves

The changes are projected to cost the city about $189,000 more than it currently sets aside for commissioner and committee compensation. However, that total could fluctuate based on the number of times each body meets. The projection was based on the number of times each body met in 2018.

Mayor Robert Garcia, who teamed with Councilwoman Stacy Mungo to bring the changes to the council, asked that city staff look at the changing the pay structure for the city’s civil service commission to be augmented because of the frequency in which it meets would have it reach its max at about mid-year.

In 2018 the commission met 25 times and last year it met 26 times putting its total at $5,000 and $5,200 under the proposed compensation model. Those would both be below the $7,000 cap.

However, the commission has hearings within their meetings that are also compensated that would accelerate the point at which it would meet its cap.

“This hasn’t been reviewed by the city for 20 years,” Garcia said. “The one thing that I think is important and I am glad about is that I think every person on a commission, regardless of the commission, should be thanked and compensated for their labor and work.”

The required resolution or ordinance required to codify the changes were requested to return to the council within the next four months. The item passed with an 8-1 vote with the lone dissenter being Councilman Al Austin.

Austin noted that he had previously served as a commissioner and appreciated the work and long hours that go into those meetings but expressed reservations about increasing pay when the city is staring down budget uncertainty.

“I know we’re approaching some very tough budget times coming up in the next few years and I’m just not very comfortable with this ‘Christmas in January,’” Austin said.

A study session held by the City Council in late December revealed budget deficit projections for the next three fiscal years with the 2022 fiscal year having the largest potential deficit at $22 million.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.