City may ask voters to give up the power to elect city clerk, treasurer; $15 minimum wage on council’s agenda

Daily Post Staff Writer

Belmont may ask its voters to consider giving up their right to elect the city’s clerk and treasurer and delegate the job to City Hall.

On Tuesday (Nov. 14), the City Council will consider whether a measure should be put on either the June or November 2018 ballots asking residents whether the clerk and treasurer ought to be elected or appointed by council. Since the city was incorporated in 1926, both positions, along with the City Council have been elected, according to a report from City Manager Greg Scoles.

Terri Cook has been the city clerk since 2002 and John Violet has been the city treasurer since 2003, according to Scoles’ report.

Cook is paid an annual salary of $99,933 while Violet, who is a part-timer, receives an annual stipend of $4,680 and both get benefits from the city, according to Scoles.

In February, the council decided to look at switching the positions from elected to appointed. Cook and Violet could not be reached for comment Friday because city offices were closed in honor of Veterans Day.

According to Scoles, making the shift would protect the city from disorganization. State law prohibits the council from creating any qualifications for the positions other than requiring people to be a registered voter in the city in question and at least 18 years old. Appointing a city clerk and treasurer would eliminate the possibility that someone who is not qualified for either position got elected and potentially damaged the city in some way, Scoles said.

Scoles recommends the council discuss what the oversight of the two offices, if appointed, ought to be, qualifications for the offices and whether the needs of the city are “best met” by elected or appointed officers.

City clerks are in charge of local elections, and must be knowledgeable on open meeting laws, the public records act and campaign finance laws. The clerk also acts as the secretary of council meetings, who distributes the agenda and creates minutes of the meetings, as well as maintaining records for the city. Because the clerk is elected, he or she acts independently of council’s influence.

Daly City and South San Francisco are the two other cities in San Mateo County that elect their city clerk. City treasurers are charged with investing and managing city funds and creating reports for the council.

San Carlos, along with South San Francisco and Daly City, are the other cities in the county with elected city treasurers.

On Tuesday the council will also decide whether to hike the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. After 2020, employers in Belmont would have to increase worker’s pay by the consumer price index for the area under the proposal before council.

The state minimum wage is $10 to $10.50 an hour, depending on how many employees a business has.

The state minimum scheduled to hit $15 an hour by 2022 for most businesses.

Belmont Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 14) at 1 Twin Pines Lane.