Escondido City Council imposes term limit, wage measures on November ballot

Escondido City Council this week placed two measures on the Nov. 8 ballot for city voters to decide, one setting term limits for all elected city offices and the other setting salary the position of elected city treasurer.

Previously, the council had approved a measure asking voters if they wanted to raise the city’s sales tax by ¾ of a cent for 15 years to meet projected future budget shortfalls. Escondido voters will decide all three ballot measures in the Nov. 8 election.

In addition to casting ballot measures, city voters will elect a mayor and council members to represent council districts 1 and 2.

The board voted unanimously at its Wednesday meeting to place both the term limit and treasurer items on the ballot. All three measures – including the sales tax increase – require a simple majority to be approved by voters.

The term limits measure asks voters if they want to establish a lifetime limit of three four-year terms for city council or treasurer, and a two-term limit for the mayor’s office.

In a city-commissioned survey in late 2021, 68% of city voters said they would support term limits for municipal office holders while 22% preferred no term limits.

Under current municipal law, there is no limit to the number of terms a person can serve in elected office.

Voters will also decide whether the salary of the elected city treasurer should be reduced to the same level as that of a member of city council, or $34,061 annually. The treasurer’s current salary is set by municipal law at half the highest salary paid to a department head other than the city manager, which is $105,997.

Currently, the position of city treasurer is held by Douglas Schultz, who was first elected to the position in 2016. In 2020, when Shultz had no challenger, the council nominated him for a new four-year term.

According to a city staff report, Shultz supports reducing the treasurer’s salary, but had suggested setting it at half the mayor’s salary, or $39,870. The board instead voted to ask voters to align the treasurer’s compensation with the board’s annual salary. If approved by voters, the measure would take effect in 2024 when Shultz’s current term ends.

The staff report says four other towns in San Diego County have elected treasurers and the average annual salary for the position is $13,742.

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