City employees in San Bernardino, Calif. are receiving nearly $1 million in pay raises despite the city's shaky financial situation, according to reports from the Press Enterprise newspaper.
The pay increases come because the city's charter is structured so that police and fire salaries are set annually by taking the average of 10 comparable California cities. The survey cities include Pasadena and Irvine, which have average household incomes twice that of San Bernardino, according to the report.
The council approved the increases on a 5-2 vote, but it brought questions about the city charter.
"It makes no sense to put the largest single part of our budget — for our contacts with police and fire — on automatic pilot," Mayor Pat Morris told the newspaper.
Most of the council members defended the charter saying the city, which has a high crime rate, needs competitive salaries to attract police and firefighters. One member also argued the system takes politics out of the equation. San Bernardino filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in August 2012.