COMPTON — The City Council has gone full circle and granted a 10% across-the-board pay raise to 186 municipal workers, including most of Compton's administrative and middle-management staffs.
However, the council continued to deny a similar raise to City Manager Laverta S. Montgomery, while signaling that the latest vote for pay increases might be revoked in a month.
The employees--managerial and hourly workers not represented by a labor union--had originally been given a salary boost on Christmas Eve, only to see that money abruptly snatched back a week later when the council realized that some workers stood to pocket as much as 10% more than others.
When council members met Jan. 14 to reinstate the raises, they agreed to remove the disparity by making the increases uniform.
Raises to Be Justified
But in approving the revised raises, retroactive to last July, the council gave Montgomery four weeks to present a convincing argument that the increases are really justified--otherwise, they might be reconsidered by the council yet again.
The measure passed by a vote of 4 to 1, with Councilman Maxcy D. Filer dissenting as he had done on Christmas Eve. Before both votes, Filer said he felt no raises should be granted until Montgomery proves they are warranted, perhaps by comparing Compton salaries with those paid for comparable work in other cities.
Council members refused to give Montgomery any raise, although she continued to contend during the council meeting that her contract calls for a salary adjustment any time other administrative workers receive one. The council interpreted things differently, however, and agreed that a 10% increase Montgomery received last September--bringing her annual salary to $73,452--was sufficient for one calendar year.
At the council's Jan. 7 meeting, Councilman Floyd A. James had led a move to cancel the Christmas Eve raises in part because they included a second 10% for the city manager. He had said several other raises seemed questionable because the city appeared to be headed toward a budget deficit. (James suggested that the council additionally reconsider three union-employee wage increases hastily passed on Christmas Eve, but the officials ultimately left those agreements intact.)
In an uncharacteristic criticism of Montgomery and her staff, James had also complained that he had not been given adequate "backup information" when asked to approve the raises on Christmas Eve.
When reached this week, James said he had nothing more to say about the pay raise issue or the city manager. And he insisted that his remarks did not signal a rift between him and Montgomery. But he said in the future, he plans to "definitely take more time to review everything" before casting his council vote.
Montgomery could not be reached for comment.
Deficit Not Expected
At the meeting last week, Montgomery's staff assured the council that no budget deficit is expected this year, although one could occur next year because the federal government has discontinued a revenue-sharing program that annually brought the city about $2.6-million.
During an interview this week, Mayor Walter R. Tucker said the council nevertheless intends to keep a close watch on the city's purse strings.
"We want to be fair to everybody if we can afford it," Tucker said. "We need those (management) people, but also they need to face reality. . . . If you can't afford a raise for the little guy, then why give it to the (management staff)?"
Personnel Director Sally Whited Taylor told the council that it would take at least four weeks to prepare the pay raise justifications. She said she intends to mail a salary survey to several surrounding cities and compare their rates with Compton's.