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Cities Try to Aid Workers Called to War : Reservists: Culver City is considering a proposal to pay employees who are called to active duty. Santa Monica recently passed a similar measure.

February 14, 1991|DENNIS ROMERO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In an effort to soften the hardship posed by Persian Gulf duty, some Westside communities plan to pay full salaries to their war-bound public employees.

Santa Monica recently passed a measure to continue paying its employees who are military reservists on active duty in the Gulf War. Culver City is scheduled to consider the issue Feb. 25.

Active reservists who work for either the city or the county of Los Angeles also will receive their full salaries. Within the last four weeks, both governmental agencies passed measures to pay employees for six months after their call to duty.

As part of its proposal, Culver City's Personnel Department is conducting a survey to determine how many reservists the city employs, Personnel Director Gordon Youngs said.

Youngs said survey results so far show that the city has two reservists--a civilian in the Police Department and a legal secretary in the city attorney's office. Neither has been called to active duty.

Officials at Beverly Hills said they do not plan to bring up the pay issue because very few city employees are reservists. "We have not had any discussion on that," a city spokeswoman said. "Perhaps it's because we don't have anyone who would be affected so far."

Jan Murphy, West Hollywood's personnel director, said that city will consider the issue if unions representing city employees bring it up. But, she said, West Hollywood also employs few reservists.

On Jan. 8, Redondo Beach became the first Southland city to pass such an ordinance.

Santa Monica, which employs eight reservists, passed the most generous resolution for military-leave pay in the Southland when it decided on Jan. 22 to allow its active reserves to turn in their military paychecks for their city salaries for up to two years.

Karen Bancroft, the city's personnel director, said the city decided to provide full salaries because many families could be hurt financially. Military pay can be up to 75% less than civilian salaries, she said.

"They could lose their homes," Bancroft said.

The resolution will affect at least two employees already in the Gulf, a police officer in the Marine Corps and a senior public works inspector in the Navy.

For one Santa Monica police officer expecting to leave for the Gulf soon, the resolution is a blessing. The officer makes about $4,000 per month working for the city, but would have made about $1,000 per month with the military, a police spokesman said.

"Several city employees have got caught up in what is happening in the Middle East," said Detective Shane Talbot, president of the Santa Monica Police Officers Assn. "Some of them have been sent to the Middle East in support of this country."

"Their families certainly should be taken care of," added Santa Monica Councilman Herb Katz.

For large governmental bodies, the price of paying full salaries to absent employees could be enormous. Los Angeles, for example, has 541 reservists with a potential six-month cost for replacement workers estimated at $500,000, according to a city spokeswoman.

For smaller cities, such as Santa Monica, the cost is not expected to be as severe, although Santa Monica plans to make up for absent employees by assigning overtime and hiring temporary help.

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