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City Council members take pay cuts

Five members receive a total of $69,722 in salaries, benefits
By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Health benefits and life insurance set Lincoln’s City Council apart from the councils of four area cities. The total amount of pay this fiscal year for Lincoln City Council members, including salaries and health, dental, vision and life insurance benefits received by the City Council are $19,424 for Mayor Tom Cosgrove, $8,149 for Linda Stackpoole, $13,809 for Kent Nakata, and $14,170 for both Spencer Short and Paul Joiner. The News Messenger called area cities to ask what they pay their City Council members and if those members receive benefits. Rocklin City Council members make $650 a month and have no benefits, according to Rocklin’s director of administrative services Judy LaPorte. Rocklin has a population of 54,754. Loomis has a population of 6,300, and their council members get $383 a month with no benefits, according to Loomis town clerk Crickett Strock. Roseville, with a population of 115,000, pays their mayor a stipend of $650 a month and the rest of the council a stipend of $600 monthly, according to spokeswoman Megan MacPherson. She said council members do not receive benefits. Auburn has a population of 13,200, and pays it’s City Council $270 a month, according to the Auburn director of finance Andy Heath. Heath said Auburn’s council members are eligible for medical, dental, and vision benefits, as well as life insurance. By comparison, Lincoln has a population of close to 42,000. The city of Lincoln’s human resources manager Debbie Lindh gave The News Messenger an estimated base pay for each councilmember prior to any pay cuts, which is $8,459 a year for Cosgrove and $7,860 a year for the rest of the City Council. Three out of five City Council members took a reduction of at least 5 percent, and one has taken a 10 percent pay cut. Cosgrove did not take a pay cut this year. Lindh said all five council members are paying the entire employee portion of their Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) retirement benefit, which is 8 percent. With $1,200 taken off of his salary per year for his monthly cell phone bill, Cosgrove grosses $7,259 a year, not including benefits. With the 5 percent pay cut, Joiner, Short and Stackpoole all gross $7,485 a year, not including benefits. Nakata, who took a 10 percent pay cut, grosses $7,145 a year, not including benefits. The benefits that are available to all council members are medical, dental, vision and life insurance, with the exception of Stackpoole, “because she’s not an active member of CalPERS” since she’s retired, according to Lindh. “Linda (Stackpoole) is the only member not taking the medical health benefits and has not for the full term she has been in office. She is using the dental and vision plans, as are all the other council members,” Lindh said. “Life insurance is being used by Kent (Nakata), Paul (Joiner) and Linda (Stackpoole).” City Council members are eligible for lifetime health benefits if they qualify, according to Lindh. To receive the lifetime health benefits, Lindh said, a councilmember must be vested with the city for five years, be 50-years-old or older, “have to, when leaving office be retiring out of a CalPERS agency within 120 days of leaving office,” and they must sign up for the benefits. “The retirement council benefits are not applicable to Linda Stackpoole as she is not an active member of CalPERS,” Lindh said. Lindh said Cosgrove has paid $100 a month for the cell phone he uses with the city for more than three years and the $100 is taken out of his paycheck. Cosgrove told The News Messenger on Tuesday that he had the $100 deducted from his salary because of “costs associated with being a councilmember.” Stackpoole took a 5 percent reduction in pay last year, and Councilman Kent Nakata took a 5 percent decrease in pay, which went into effect July 1, 2009, and is still in place. Nakata took an additional 5 percent this year for a total of 10 percent, according to Lindh. “It was voluntary,” Nakata said. “My thought is that it was suggested to all city employees to take a 4.6 percent cut, and it was my thought to do it myself.” Stackpoole told The News Messenger on Monday that she took the reduction in pay because she “couldn’t see asking employees to take a pay cut” and not doing the same herself. Both Short and Joiner took a five percent pay decrease this year. Joiner responded via e-mail that paying for his PERS and taking the 5 percent pay cut “seemed the appropriate thing to do.” “I thought that was the right thing to do,” Short said on why he took a pay decrease this year. “It’s not appropriate to ask somebody to do something you’re not willing to do.”