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Montgomery Named to Lottery Panel : Compton Fears Losing Manager

February 03, 1985|DARYL KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

COMPTON — Appointment of City Manager Laverta S. Montgomery to the new state Lottery Commission has left the City Council pleased at the recognition--but wondering whether the highly regarded administrator will have enough time left to run this city.

"We, as a council, are going to have to sit down and talk about it with her," said Councilwoman Jane Robbins. "I don't know how much time this is going to take, and we need to do some thinking in terms of her being gone."

A majority of the five-person council said, however, that it will try to resolve any schedule problems that develop.

"It's possible that if this is going to consume her time, we can work something out. I would definitely hate to lose her," said Councilman Floyd James.

Expects No Problems

Montgomery, a 48-year-old Republican, said Thursday in a written statement that she expects no problems balancing the two positions.

"I don't anticipate that the commission will require my full-time effort," she said. "It will require a lot of energy at the outset, but I will not be away from the city for any extended period of time. I have placed responsible people in responsible positions, and city government will continue to function in an effective and efficient manner."

The other four lottery commissioners are aware that there will be times when city duties will not allow her to attend commission meetings, she said.

Gov. George Deukmejian, who appointed the commissioners Tuesday, has made it clear that the positions will be virtually full time for the next several months, as the commission chooses a lottery director, decides the types of games and makes other decisions to get the lottery going.

Of the five commissioners, only Montgomery holds a full-time job. The others are semiretired or retired. All will receive $100, plus expenses, for each day they work.

Top City Administrator

As city manager, Montgomery is Compton's top municipal administrator and is responsible for daily operations in this city of 85,000 people. She earns $66,500 a year and oversees a $67-million budget and 714 full-time employees.

The City Council, her collective boss, works part time. Most of its members are convinced that her leadership, experience in redevelopment law and expertise in municipal bonds has been crucial in bringing new homes and businesses to the city.

In 14 years with Compton--including two as manager, three as redevelopment director and six as controller--Montgomery has been a central figure in virtually every major redevelopment project, they said.

"She looks into everything that's being done in redevelopment," said Robbins. "She knows the bond counsels . . . and I think this is putting the city of Compton on the map. Years ago we were out begging businesses to come in. Now it's just the opposite. She seems to know how to put things together."

To Councilman Robert Adams, Montgomery is "the best city manager Compton has had since I moved here in 1950. . . . When she came on board as manager, all of these projects began to move."

Concerns Remain

Concerns remain, however, about whether Montgomery will be able to balance her responsibilities here with the demands of her state appointment.

"I've got to take a look at things that are coming up that would need her direct attention," said Robbins. "We need to see if some of the things could be delegated, as are many of them anyway."

The councilwoman, an ardent Montgomery supporter, said that even before the appointment, she had heard complaints that Montgomery "needs to spend more time in the office."

Councilman Maxcy Filer said he would not "prejudge" the effects of Montgomery's new duties, but he said he has been concerned about her office hours.

"I believe that a city manager should be there from 8 to 5, from before 8 to after 5, but their (the other council members') and the city manager's theory is that the city manager can come whenever she wants and leave whenever she wants," he said.

Only One 'No' Vote

Filer was the only council member to vote against Montgomery's appointment as permanent city manager in April, 1983.

Montgomery, who a spokeswoman said had been asked by Deukmejian not to give interviews until after the first Lottery Commission meeting Monday, was unavailable for comment.

Mayor Walter Tucker said the splitting of Montgomery's time between Compton and Sacramento "concerns all of us, but I don't want to prejudge. I'm sure we'll be on top of it."

Robbins, James, Adams and Tucker said they would work with Montgomery to resolve time problems that might develop. Robbins and James said they thought a compromise could be negotiated that would keep Montgomery in Compton even if the state post takes much of her time in the next several months.

Whether Montgomery will continue to be paid her full city salary during that period "is a consideration I imagine the council will get into . . . but I personally would be for her receiving her full pay," Adams said.

Pleased by Recognition

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