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Los Angeles

Secessionists Seek More Council Pay

Cityhood: In a reversal, Valley separatists suggest members work full time and earn $75,000 a year.

December 07, 2001|MICHAEL FINNEGAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In an about-face, San Fernando Valley secessionists dropped their proposal for a part-time City Council with nominal salaries on Thursday and called instead for full-time members to be paid $75,000 a year.

Valley VOTE President Jeff Brain said the secession group's request last year for a part-time council was an error.

To govern a Valley city of 1.4 million residents with a $1-billion budget would require a full-time council, Brain and other secessionists concluded in a report released Thursday. Their report to the Local Agency Formation Commission suggested that the new city's mayor, one of 15 proposed council members, be paid $100,000 a year.

FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Friday December 14, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 2 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
Valley secession--A story in the Dec. 7 California section said a "vision statement" for a proposed San Fernando Valley split from Los Angeles suggested a part-time city council for the new entity. The story should have specified that the part-time idea was in a draft statement and was subsequently removed.

LAFCO's latest secession plan, released in October, had called for the Valley city's mayor and council members to be paid $12,000 a year.

It was Brain who first suggested the part-time council in Valley VOTE's April 2000 "vision statement" for a new city. It said council members should be paid "fairly but nominally . . . to attract people sincerely interested in serving their community and neighbors, and not to attract career politicians."

But on Thursday, Brain disavowed that part of the statement.

"We had something that said 'part-time?' " he asked. "I thought we pulled that out. I'm surprised we didn't catch that."

Larry Levine, co-founder of the One Los Angeles anti-secession group, said the switch reflects disarray among Valley separatists.

"Trying to figure out what Valley VOTE wants is like trying to nail a raw egg to the wall," Levine said. "They want to put this thing on the ballot, pass secession, and figure it out later, because they sure haven't got it figured out yet."

Members of the Los Angeles City Council are paid a full-time salary of $133,000 a year.

The new Valley VOTE report reiterated the group's call for substantial revisions to LAFCO's secession plan, which could be put on the November ballot. Most notably, it urged LAFCO to give libraries, police stations and other municipal assets to the Valley city.

Under LAFCO's plan, the Valley city's mayor and council would govern with a staff of just 19 people. The Valley city would pay Los Angeles $1 billion a year--just short of its entire treasury--to provide nearly all municipal services for up to three years. Details of how services would be provided after that would be worked out after the November referendum.

In a separate report released Thursday, Los Angeles officials agreed with Valley VOTE that 19 employees would be too few to handle the new city's workload. The report by City Administrative Officer William T. Fujioka cited "serious shortcomings" in LAFCO's plan and a lack of "details necessary to successfully split apart a full-service city of the size and complexity of Los Angeles."

Fujioka questioned whether the Valley city would produce enough tax revenue to maintain service levels. He also found that the proposed $61-million "alimony" payment from the Valley city to Los Angeles each year--to compensate it for lost tax revenue--would not be enough to maintain service levels in the L.A. Basin.

He also said the plan sidesteps "important issues, such as the cost of and the process for the reduction of the city's work force and the effect on the city's employees."

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