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Inglewood to Vote on Raise for Mayor

December 11, 1986|MICHELE L. NORRIS | Times Staff Writer

INGLEWOOD — The City Council has voted unanimously to place an initiative on the April 7 municipal ballot that would redefine Mayor Edward Vincent's position and more than quadruple his salary.

The measure, which was introduced by City Councilman Danny Tabor to discourage Vincent from seeking other public office, would amend the city Charter to make the mayor's position a full-time job and increase the salary from $10,800 to $49,621.

Vincent is already the highest-paid part-time mayor in the South Bay, followed by Carson Mayor Sylvia Muise, who earns $8,056 a year.

Inglewood, the second most populous city in the South Bay, also has one of the highest-paid city managers in the country, according to a study by the Government Finance Officers Assn., a Chicago-based, nonprofit organization that conducts research for municipal governments. City Manager Paul Eckles, Inglewood's chief administrator, earns $97,315 a year.

Speakers at Tuesday's council meeting were evenly divided between supporters and opponents of the initiative.

One supporter said Vincent is "grossly underpaid" and another said that his salary is "almost a joke."

"I think it is only fair that we recognize the mayor for his value to the city and compensate him accordingly," said Dr. Arike Logan at the council meeting. "The mayor's salary should be compensatory with the responsibilities of the job."

Opponents of the Charter amendment said Inglewood does not need a full-time mayor because the city manager acts as the chief executive, and many suggested that the city manager's salary be decreased if the mayor receives a raise.

"I don't think this city needs two full-time paid leaders," said J. R. Richardson, a longtime political activist in Inglewood. "This is a step toward the corruption of the city of Inglewood."

The proposed Charter amendment marks the third time in less than 12 years that the City Council has asked voters to decide if the mayor's salary should be raised substantially.

Unlike previous attempts in 1974 and 1975, the latest effort would retain the city manager as Inglewood's chief administrator rather than replacing the position with a full-time mayor.

The mayor currently earns $900 a month, plus an additional $150 each month for chairing the housing and redevelopment agencies. City Council members earn $450 per month.

The Charter amendment would raise the mayor's salary to two-thirds of the $74,432 annual salary for a Municipal Court judge, or $49,621. The city used that formula to bring the mayor's salary in line with other municipal officials with similar responsibilities, said Deputy City Manager Norman Cravens.

The amendment also would change the mayor's official responsibilities to include establishing and directing the city's policy development process, appointing members of all boards and commissions with the advice and consent of the City Council and serving as chairman of related city agencies such as the Redevelopment Agency, the Housing Authority and the Parking Authority.

"The Charter amendment basically amends the city Charter's description of the mayor to include many duties that the mayor currently performs that were not included in the original description of the position when the Charter was established," City Manager Eckles said after the meeting Tuesday.

'Demanding Job'

"The office of mayor has become a very demanding job with duties vastly more extensive than those contemplated in 1927," when the city Charter was established, Eckles said.

Councilman Tabor, who says Vincent has reduced crime and increased development and pride in the city, asked city staff in mid-November to prepare the amendment to discourage Vincent from leaving his current post to seek election to another office.

Though Vincent has not acknowledged any plans to run for higher office, Tabor said in a memo to city officials in November that several people have suggested that Vincent "would be a natural candidate for . . . a 'higher' public office such as a seat in the state Legislature."

"Mayor Vincent is doing a great job as mayor and I think we need to keep him right here in Inglewood," Tabor said in the memo.

Vincent, 52, was elected to his second term in November with roughly 80% of the vote. Currently on a leave of absence from his job as a county probation officer, Vincent says he frequently spends "far in excess" of 40 hours a week fulfilling his duties as mayor.

"What (this amendment) is doing is compensating the mayor for doing what he's been doing and what he will continue to do regardless of the outcome of this election," Vincent said during the council meeting.

He later thanked the councilmen for placing the measure on the ballot.

A simple majority vote is necessary to pass the Charter amendment. If approved, the amendment would go into effect in about 30 days.

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