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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : City Manager's Lavish New Perks Package Cut in Half


LANCASTER — In response to public complaints, the City Council voted to cut by nearly half the value of new perquisites given to City Manager Jim Gilley in a three-year extension of his contract.

Even so, Gilley--who already earns $127,194 a year--will not fare so badly.

After lavishing praise on Gilley's performance, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve his contract extension to August, 1997, with a newly drafted provision that will give him an extra 42 paid days off--a perk estimated to be worth more than $19,000.

Mayor Arnie Rodio said public complaints led the council to reconsider its preliminary decision two weeks ago to grant the extension with more costly benefits. In that version, the city was to contribute an extra $36,048 into Gilley's state retirement fund over the next four years.

"We did try to respond by bringing it down," Rodio said, confirming that council members received calls from citizens complaining about the original plan after reading newspaper reports. Callers said the original increase was too much for a manager who already earns a healthy salary, Rodio said.

Gilley's contract did not expire until August, 1994. But council members said, in granting the extension, they wanted to give Gilley greater job security.

That also drew protests from some homeowners, who argued that next year's post-election council ought to decide Gilley's fate. Three of five council seats will be on the ballot in the April municipal election. Legally, a new council could terminate Gilley's new contract with a three-vote majority, but the city would have to pay his full salary for the remaining term.

Gilley, 44, served as Lancaster's manager from mid-1981 to mid-1988, when he was ousted by a new council. But another new council rehired him to a three-year contract in August, 1991, after the city went through two other city managers in the interim.

Council members praised Gilley for his series of redevelopment-related measures aimed at bringing new businesses to the city, persuading the county to build major public facilities locally and a campaign to revive a slum neighborhood.

Under the council's action, Gilley, who already receives 15 days of leave each year in addition to his vacation, will get an additional nine days leave this fiscal year. He will receive 10, 11 and 12 extra days in the next three years.

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