REDONDO BEACH — The City Council this week approved an ordinance that makes the mayor and council members eligible for unlimited mileage reimbursements despite public criticism regarding past claims.
Previously, the mayor and the council members were reimbursed for up to 600 miles of official business travel at 25 cents a mile, or $150. They will be eligible to receive 30 cents a mile, with no mileage limit, when the ordinance takes effect in 30 days. City records show that the mayor and most council members have claimed the 600-mile limit nearly every month since January, 1984, without accounting for specific trips.
Several residents voiced doubts at recent council meetings that the 600-mile limit was driven by the mayor and council members as often as claimed and said the elected officials should account for specific trips as city, state and federal employees are required to do.
Mayor Barbara J. Doerr and most of the council members have said that they probably drive more than 600 miles each month because of council and committee meetings, site visits and meetings with residents.
The ordinance also raises the mayor's and council members' salaries from $500 to $525 a month, but that provision did not raise any controversy.
Councilman John Chapman, who proposed the changes, said previously that the 600-mile cap violates the City Charter because it prevents elected officials from being reimbursed for all expenses related to city business. The 600-mile limit has been in effect since 1976.
A check by The Times of city records showed that Chapman claimed 600 miles for each of the 14 full months he has been in office through June. Council member Kay Horrell claimed 600 miles for seven of the 13 full months she has been in office. She also claimed 200 miles for her first 10 days in office, as did Chapman. Horrell's other claims ranged from 300 to 500 miles.
Councilman Archie Snow, who has been cited by other city officials as the most active member of the council, claimed the full 600 miles for 11 of 32 months. One month he claimed--and was reimbursed for--640 miles. Some months he filed for as little as 410 miles, but he said he drives a city car for about half of his official business and does not seek reimbursement for those trips.
Doerr claimed 600 miles a month for 30 of the past 33 months. She claimed 300 miles each for two months and 400 miles for the remaining month.
Councilman Ronald A. Cawdrey claimed 600 miles for each of 32 months. Councilwoman Marcia Martin claimed 600 miles a month for 29 of 33 months. She claimed 500 miles in each of the other four months. Her July voucher listed individual trips, but not specific mileage for those trips.
The council recently instructed the city attorney's and city manager's offices to determine whether the law requires elected officials to report mileage on a departure-to-destination basis, and to review past documentation of all expense-account reporting, including claims for lunches, dinners and other expenses. Their reports are expected Sept. 2.