Huntington Beach

City Atty. Gates gets raise

MICHAEL GATES, Huntington Beach City Attorney (OC Tribune photo).

By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune

A divided Huntington Beach City Council approved a raise for City Attorney Michael Gates on Tuesday night.

The vote – 4-3 with the four new city council members voting in the affirmative – was one of several in which the new conservative majority prevailed over the more liberal council members.

Voting in favor were Mayor Tony Strickland, Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark and Councilmembers Pat Burns and Casey McKeon. Against were Councilmembers Rhonda Bolton, Natalie Moser and Dan Kalmick.

According to a staff report, Gates – who is elected by the public, not appointed by the city council – said the increase was to make an inflation-adjusted increase from his current salary of $117.63 an hour to $140 an hour. The raise is effective immediately and will be automatically increased at a rate of 3 percent annually.

In defense of the raises, Gates said that he hasn’t received an increase in compensation since May 2019. 

There was considerable difference of opinion on where such a raise would put Gates in comparison to other city attorneys. One person speaking during public comments claimed that the proposal would make Gates the second highest-paid city attorney in the state. 

A rebuttal suggesting that several other city attorneys in Southern California did receive more money prompted Bolton to say, “I think those numbers were pulled out of thin air.”

After considerable discussion, Strickland called for the vote.

Also Tuesday night, the council voted 5-2 in favor of Van Der Mark’s proposal for a report on homelessness, anti-camping and anti-loitering laws. 

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