Council approves 28% pay raise for city manager

Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley is set to receive a nearly $85,000-per-year raise after the City Council approved pay increases for her and seven other top officials Tuesday night.

City staff contend those salaries were lower than those offered by comparable city and county governments around the Bay Area, and say the raises will bring pay in line with Berkeley’s peers.

The City Council recommended Williams-Ridley’s salary increase — a 28% pay bump, from $301,428 per year to $386,160 per year — following a performance evaluation that was held in closed session in October.

The heads of the city’s finance, human resources, information technology, planning, public works and parks, recreation and waterfront departments, as well as the fire chief, will also receive raises ranging from 1.6% to 11%. As with the city manager’s pay increase, staff said the raises were meant to match the median salaries offered for comparable positions at a dozen peer governments, including Alameda County and the cities of Oakland, Fremont and Palo Alto.

Berkeley residents approved a ballot measure last year that raised the pay of Mayor Jesse Arreguín and members of the City Council by 75%.

On Tuesday night, there was little public discussion among council members of the raises for top city officials before they were approved as part of the consent calendar, though some members of the public took issue with the pay increases.

“If you want compensation like Palo Alto, then I want roads like Palo Alto,” commenter Charles Clarke said.

Councilmember Terry Taplin later noted Williams-Ridley and other officials had steered Berkeley through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s questionable that some self-proclaimed progressives would suggest that we woefully underpay” city staff and administrators, Taplin said.