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Vice Mayor Larry Agran Proposes a “Living Wage” for the City’s Lowest Paid Workers

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During the June 11th City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Larry Agran proposed a pay increase for the City’s lowest-wage workers.

While discussing the City’s annual budget, Agran said that it’s “time to restore a living wage to our own workforce and ensure a living wage for employees of all major contractors that do business with the City of Irvine.”

Many of the City’s workers who perform critical services — including childcare workers, maintenance workers, and seasonal park & recreation workers — currently earn about $16.50 an hour. Under Agran’s proposal, those workers would earn a “living wage” of $20 per hour.

Agran estimated the cost to the City for the pay raise to be between $200,000 and $300,000. That money would come from the City’s reserve fund, which currently stands at nearly $70 million — which is a very healthy 24% above the City’s annual operating budget.

Agran — who established the City’s reserve fund when he was previously Mayor — wants the fund to be drawn down to 21% or 22%, allowing for those dollars to be “invested in our workers and city services.” While discussing the reserve fund, Agran said: “Excess money sitting in reserve like that is dead money. Yes, it’s getting some interest, but it’s not investing in our people’s needs right now.”

Other investments Agran proposed include:

  • Raising the amount of funding the City allocates toward public safety in Irvine schools
     
  • Working with the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) to add buses to help relieve traffic congestion, cut air pollution, and get kids to and from school safely
     
  • Hiring more school nurses to bring our school districts closer to the nationally recommended standard of one nurse per school
After a brief discussion, the Council voted unanimously to approve Agran’s motion to direct the City’s Finance Commission to study the idea of drawing down the reserve fund. The Commission would then report back to the Council with recommendations as to how those funds could be best utilized.
Roger Bloom

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