Redwood City’s city manager and city attorney will both get a 10% pay increase following a unanimous vote and council praise for their job performances. 

City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz will earn $334,250 and the City Attorney Veronica Ramirez will earn $285,067, with the increases to take effect retroactively beginning July of this year. The raises were recommended based on performance, cost of living increases and maintaining pay competitive with similar roles in neighboring cities. 

“Talent, leadership, the qualities that these two women have, they’re not easy to find, and you need to respect that and really hold on to that,” Mayor Diane Howard said. “We can’t afford to lose our good staff.”

Both positions received 3% cost-of-living raises in 2019 but more recently refused 3% merit raises in response to budget concerns as the pandemic was unfolding. With the salary increase ordinance, the missed wages from the rejected raises will be retroactively reimbursed.

The ordinance also mandates the positions earn at least 10% more than other city staff members with “subordinate classifications.”

The raises will place the positions in the mid-upper tier of comparably sized cities in the region. City managers in Mountain View, Palo Alto and Daly City earn $341,981, $356,016, $357,580 respectively, while the position in San Leandro, San Mateo and Alameda earns $262,650, $272,946 and $278,409. 

Redwood City has a population of more than 85,000 and 810 city employees, according to the California Controller’s Office. 

Howard noted that in her 20 years on the council she worked with four city managers and five city attorneys and that the two current employees were “in the top tier” but not getting top tier compensation.

Both Howard and Councilmember Diana Reddy noted the raises were not popular, but reaffirmed their support nonetheless. 

Public comment on the matter saw multiple speakers express disapproval of the move, some pointing to lower wages of other city employees, others claiming comparisons with other cities were misleading as those roles had broader responsibilities or were already overpaid. 

A Change.org petition amassed 238 signatures in opposition of the raises, citing concerns due to perceived deficient city services and infrastructure combined with climbing taxes and utility rates, in addition to low hourly wages of other employees.

The assistant city manager and assistant city attorney earned $239,151 and $199,453 respectively in regular pay in 2020, according to the Controller’s Office.

“We need to be able to let our senior staff know how important they are, how much they are appreciated and valued,” Reddy said. “I know it isn’t a popular recommendation, but I heartily support the recommendation.”

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