The Dixon City Council at its Regular Meeting this past Tuesday unanimously voted to raise the salaries of future members of the Council and to provide Health & Welfare Benefits as well. By state law the pay raises can not apply to current council members and will only take effect for newly elected or re-elected members.
Currently council members receive $300 per month, including the Mayor. The new rates will be $510 for council members and the Mayor will receive $600 per month. Total cost to the city for council salaries is currently $18,000 per year. That will increase to $31,680 when the raises are in full effect.
There was no estimate of the cost for the health and welfare benefits. It was also unclear if current council members will be able to receive those benefits or if they will also only apply to new members.
During public comments on the pay issue, Mary Savage raised concerns about whether the raises were justified and if a higher rate for the Mayor was legal without a vote of the public. Once public comments were closed, Councilman Thom Bogue told Mrs. Savage she was a “liar” and had no credibility with him. Mrs. Savage was not allowed to respond to the personal attack.
The council also altered the Request for Proposals presented by the City Attorney regarding bids for the contract for publishing the city’s legal notices. The council amendments make it impossible for this newspaper, Dixon’s Independent Voice, to qualify for the contracting – making it certain the Vallejo-owned Tribune is guaranteed the contract. That action continued the efforts by city staff and the city council – particularly the Mayor – to disqualify the IV.
Each of the past six years the IV has offered a bid at least one-third lower than the Tribune. The Tribune was eventually forced to admit it is delivered to only about 700 homes – while the IV proved it goes to over 4,200 Dixon homes – about six times more Dixon homes than the Tribune. Despite winning those bids, the council refused to award the bids to the IV, and split the bids evenly at the higher rate bid by the Tribune. Those decisions cost the City over $4,000 per year more than would have been paid to the IV for its ads.
The City also ignored its own “Locally Owned Business Preference Ordinance.” Under that city law, the IV is qualified to automatically be awarded the bid, while the Vallejo-owned Tribune is not.
Last Tuesday, councilman Thom Bogue moved to alter the RFP to require all bidders to publish three times a week. The IV only publishes on Fridays, while the Tribune does have three issues a week.
To overcome the Local Preference ordinance, council member Jerry Casteñon moved to require the publication to be printed in Solano County. The Tribune is printed 45 miles from Dixon in Vallejo by its parent corporation – Gibson Publishing. The IV is currently printed by the Sacramento Bee – 25 miles from Dixon.
The Tribune is controlled by a multi-millionaire banker who lives in Marin County. The IV is owned by a family that has resided in Dixon for over 20 years.
IV Publisher Dave Scholl admonished the council, saying “You are not fooling anyone… Everyone knows this is retribution for challenging the council and staff and doing investigations like the Movie Studio scam, and backing a vote of the people on the sewer rates.”
Bogue has been angry with the IV because it did not endorse him for re-election – although he was endorsed his first election and for County Supervisor. He also was miffed because a letter to the editor he sent was published a week later than he hoped.