City hands out raises despite projected $10 million deficit


Daily Post Staff Writer

Redwood City Council has given 3% to 3.5% raises to the city’s employees, including the city manager and city attorney, despite a projection that the city will run a $10 million deficit.

Contracts with the unions representing the city’s employees call for the 3.5% increase.

The unions are getting a 3.5% raise because the city’s sales tax revenue exceeded $24.5 million. If sales tax revenue is below $24.5 million, the unions would only get 2.5%, according to a report from Human Resources Director Michelle Katsuyoshi.

The raises will go to virtually all employee employees except City Manager Melissa Stevenson-Diaz and City Attorney Veronica Ramirez, who receive a 3% raise each. Both were slated for higher raises, 6% for Ramirez, and 7% for Stevenson-Diaz. However, the two officials told a council committee consisting of Diane Howard, Shelly Masur and Ian Bain that they would forgo the higher raises and just take 3%, which was described as a “cost of living adjustment.”

The raises will bring Stevenson-Diaz’s pay to $303,864 and Ramirez’s to $259,152, not including benefits. The two had last received raises in fall 2018.

The two were originally slated for raises in March but asked the council to postpone their decision due to the COVID-19 crisis.

But some residents who participated in Monday’s online council meeting were not pleased with the idea of raises for city officials, specifically the ones given to Stevenson-Diaz, Ramirez and police officers.

Most people who commented, including Tania Solei and Maria Messina, said the city should be trying to save money because it’s not known how much tax revenues will drop due to the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus shelter-in-place orders.

Messina also pointed out that residents had voted on a sales tax measure in 2018, which was touted as a way to keep first responders, while now top city administrators are getting raises.

The council ultimately unanimously approved the raises. The vote was more of a formality since the council had approved the union contracts in previous years.

Councilwoman Janet Borgens said she’d support the raises, but warned that conversations regarding raises and such could look “very different” in the near future.

Councilwomen Diana Reddy and Diane Howard agreed.

Stevenson-Diaz also told the council that the city is looking at an estimated $10 million deficit for the financial year that begins July 1 due to a reduction in revenue from COVID-19. The Redwood City Council is expected to discuss its budget and what sort of cuts it ought to make in October.