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File this one in the unorthodox budget solution pile: No non-union employees make more than the mayor.

San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald wants to know the effects of a salary cap that would limit non-union salaries to no more than Mayor Jerry Sanders’ pay of $100,464. Emerald proposes to use the savings to restore cuts to the city’s Fire Department.

“I believe there would be considerable savings to the general fund if a cap of this nature were implemented; hopefully this savings would be directed to the Fire-Rescue Department so that the engine closure program could be eliminated,” Emerald wrote in a memo released today.

Emerald’s spokeswoman Geni Cavitt said the councilwoman limited her request to non-union employees because they aren’t covered by a labor contract.

“These are extreme times, and these are extreme measures,” Cavitt said.

Emerald estimated that there were more than 1,000 employees who make more than $100,000 in base salary. She didn’t specify whether that was all employees or simply non-union workers.

“It seems odd given that the Mayor is referred to as the CEO that so many employees would have a base salary above that of the CEO,” Emerald wrote.

Emerald is asking the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst to prepare a report on the issue. Rotating closures of city fire crews, or “brownouts,” is the cut that has received the most attention since the city closed a $179 million budget gap in December. The city estimates that the brownouts save $11.5 million a year.


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