Oakland to consider $75K pay raise for mayor; here's how salary sizes up to other cities

Right now, Oakland's mayor is the fourth highest-paid mayor in the state, right after San Francisco, L.A., and San Diego.

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Oakland to consider $75K pay raise for mayor
Oakland City Council to consider a $75,000 pay raise for Mayor Sheng Thao but some don't agree with the salary increase.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Bay Area is an expensive place to live and salaries often reflect that. But, when it comes to being mayor - a bigger city doesn't necessarily mean a bigger salary.

San Francisco's mayor is the highest paid in the state, making nearly twice as much as the mayor of the Bay Area's biggest city, San Jose.

On Tuesday, Oakland City Council will consider a proposal to give Mayor Sheng Thao a $75,000 raise. It's the most allowed under the city's charter.

MORE: Gov. Newsom, California lawmakers to get pay raise in December

Right now, Oakland's mayor is the fourth highest-paid mayor in the state, right after San Francisco, L.A., and San Diego.

Some argue that to attract and keep talented leaders, you've got to pay them more.

But there are big questions about whether or not the City of Oakland can afford to do that right now.

"This is the wrong time to be making any salary increase," said Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo.

He's not going to support a proposal to increase the mayor's salary.

"The city administrator brought this forward. He's using the charter based and on what we have in place. It's the wrong timing, not the right thing to do for the city of Oakland and I'm not going to support it," said Gallo.

According to the California state controller, Oakland's mayor makes a base salary of about $227,000. But, with the base salary plus retirement and health benefits - the mayor of Oakland made about $357,000 in 2022.

The mayor of San Jose made about $247,000 in 2022 in total compensation.

MORE: Average base pay may increase by 3.9% next year - the biggest one-year hike since 2008

Those salaries are both less than what San Francisco Mayor London Breed made last year.

The total compensation for Breed was about $444,000 in 2022, making her the highest-paid mayor in the state last year.

But some say Breed's compensation is still not enough.

"$400,000 to be CEO of San Francisco seems to me to be quite cheap to be frank. The residents of San Francisco are lucky to be getting a high-quality, high-caliber person for that price, so to speak," said CSU East Bay Political Science Professor Elizabeth Bergman. "Being CEO of Oakland - that person deserves that compensation if not more quite honestly."

Councilman Gallo says his city faces a lot of problems.

"We are projecting a $360 million deficit here in the city of Oakland," said Gallo.

The city also budgeted up to $10 million to deal with the crippling ransomware attack. And then just last week...

MORE: Oakland power outage impacts 911 calls, exposes problems at communications center

"Look at what happened to the 911 call center for the police department this past week. It was down, it wasn't working and we're still being challenged with the technology that we have in place to make sure it doesn't happen again. So, we need every nickel and dime to invest in supporting the public and supporting the community and addressing the needs. That needs to be our priority," said Gallo.

The issue goes before Oakland City Council Tuesday afternoon for discussion. And the council will vote on the ordinance.