A majority of the Anaheim City Council late Tuesday gave City Manager William O. Talley a pay increase, making him Orange County's highest paid city official and prompting Councilman Ben Bay to storm out of the closed-door meeting.
Some candidates in Tuesday's election for three City Council posts criticized the 5.5% raise, which gives Talley an annual salary of $101,700, and questioned the propriety of approving pay increases on Election Day when the council majority may hang in the balance.
Moreover, some suggest that a new council majority may not support Talley in the city manager's post.
"It's a little more than coincidental to have it on Election Day, especially when Mr. Talley's job is in jeopardy. And he has absolute gall, considering he's the highest paid public official in Orange County," said James G. Randall, campaign manager for council candidate Fred Hunter.
Talley already had become a major issue in the 14-candidate race for three Anaheim council seats. Candidates Hunter, Bill Ehrle and Charlene La Claire have said they will vote to oust Talley from his job if they are elected.
Incumbent council members Miriam Kaywood and E. Llewellyn Overholt, both running for reelection, denied that Talley's pay raise was motivated by fear of a change in the council majority and expressed support for the city manager.
Kaywood called the criticism of Talley's raise "destructive."
"Some of the City Council candidates have done nothing in the city, and they have nothing to talk about that's positive. So they have to criticize," Kaywood said Tuesday night after the closed-door session.
City spokeswoman Sheri Erlewine said management increases typically come before the council in October or November. She said it is the council, not Talley, that determines when the salary announcements are made.
With the raise, Talley surpasses Santa Ana City Manager David N. Ream, who receives an annual salary of $98,500.
Neither Talley nor Bay, who has consistently opposed what he called "excessive management compensation," could be reached for comment late Tuesday.
The council on Tuesday also gave 343 other managerial employees a 6% pay raise. And the 4-0 vote--with Bay absent--awarded salary increases to the four management officials who are directly appointed by the council.
Beside Talley, the council gave City Atty. Jack L. White a 7.75% pay hike, increasing his salary to $81,313 annually. City Clerk Leonora Sohl received a 6.6% hike, boosting her salary to $56,343, and City Treasurer Mary Turner got a 7.5% raise to $54,100.
The increases--retroactive to Sept. 19 for some and to Oct. 3 for others--will cost the city an extra $848,463 for the year. That amount will be partially offset by $657,397 the city expects to save over the next year through a management reorganization plan, Erlewine said. Under the plan implemented last June, the city will reduce its managerial employees by 15%, eliminating 19 positions by next June, mostly by attrition.
Randall, who is an attorney in Hunter's law firm, also charged that the city violated a state law known as the Brown Act by approving the pay increases during a closed session.
But Councilwoman Kaywood disagreed. "The Brown Act permits you to talk about performance in closed session," she said. "They know nothing about the Brown Act."
Bay and some of the council candidates have criticized Talley for his managerial performance. Among other things, they called him a "stumbling block" in negotiations with the California Angels over a $100-million lawsuit filed by the club against the city in a dispute over the Anaheim Stadium parking lot.
In response to the criticism, Kaywood said: "This city is run like a tight corporation, and anybody who knows business will tell you that. Excellence is cheaper than mediocrity in the long run."