Oakland city council approves minimum raise for mayor

FILE ART - Sheng Thao. November 2022 

The Oakland City Council on Tuesday approved the charter-required, minimum raise to Mayor Sheng Thao's salary. 

By a vote of 6-2, the council approved a roughly $13,000 boost to Thao's salary, the low-end of the human resources recommended amount. 

The high end was a potential $75,000 increase. The high-end figure drew criticism from some council members, as well as members of the community who cited Oakland's budget deficit. 

Ahead of the vote, Thao said she would reject any raise larger than is legally mandated, saying it's the right thing to do.  

"This year, given the significant financial challenges that the city is facing, I urge the City Council to set the Mayor’s salary at the lowest amount legally required by the city charter," Thao said in a statement, adding that as a leader it would be in the best interest of the city's fiscal health. 

Oakland's Human Resources department recommended the mayor's salary should be increased because this year, it was out of the city charter's range, which states that the mayor’s salary "shall be not less than 70% nor more than 90%" of the average salaries of "city managers/chief executive officers" of six California cities.

Three of those cities have bigger populations than Oakland and three have smaller populations. They are: Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Bakersfield, Anaheim, and Stockton.

The mayor's current annual salary is $202,999. It will now be brought up to about $216, 000 a year. 


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Human resources staff also noted that Thao currently makes nearly $22,000 less than a special assistant in her office, and they didn’t consider that a fair arrangement. The HR report recommended increasing the mayor’s salary to the highest end of the scale —$277,974.

But that figure has garnered plenty of controversy as of late, including from the editorial board of the East Bay Times and the NAACP, who opposed Thao's firing of Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong in February. 

Another vocal critics against Thao getting a $75,000 raise is Councilwoman Janani Ramachandran. 

In a statement, Ramachandran noted the difficult fiscal situation Oakland is in and she does not support bringing up the mayor's salary to the top of the scale. 

She said she is, however, open to giving Thao a lower-end increase, which would be $231,645 per year – a $29,000 raise.

It seems like Thao agrees. 

Thao said that if the council elects to give her a salary that is greater than legally mandated, she will reject it and refund any amount that exceeds the charter-required minimum to the city to deliver services to our neighborhood. 

KTVU's Greg Lee contributed to this report.