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DWP Chief to Receive $326,000 in Pay, Stipend

January 17, 2002|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Despite complaints of excessive spending, the Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to continue paying a $3,500 monthly housing allowance to Department of Water and Power General Manager David H. Wiggs Jr. in addition to his $284,000 annual salary.

The $42,000 annual allowance, first offered when Wiggs relocated to the area as an interim general manager in April, was continued by the council even after it was told he already has a house here. Wiggs could not be reached for confirmation.

"Mr. Wiggs was found to be exceptionally well qualified," mayoral chief of staff Tim McOsker told the council. "We thought it was beneficial to the city and ratepayers to make the offer to Mr. Wiggs carrying over the exact compensation he now receives."

Councilmen Nate Holden and Eric Garcetti voted against the compensation package, saying that it sends the wrong message to taxpayers when the city is facing a housing crisis.

"It's a matter of principle," Garcetti said.

Holden complained that the salary is significantly more than what the mayor is paid.

"This is absolutely absurd," Holden said. "The taxpayers are being ripped off by this deal."

Chief legislative analyst Ron Deaton said the next highest-paid city official is Police Chief Bernard C. Parks, who makes about $250,000.

Wiggs' salary is at the top of the salary range set for the general manager's position, so providing the housing allowance allows more compensation without going through the complex process of drafting a new salary range.

The council did agree to ask the city's Executive Employee Relations Committee to review whether a higher salary range can be set for the general manager in lieu of the housing allowance. To do that, the city must conduct a survey of similar utility executive positions to justify the amount.

City Administrative Officer William Fujioka told the council that even with compensation of $326,000 annually, Wiggs is receiving much less than the compensation received by private utility executives.

Holden said: "The difference is, they are bankrupt. They paid too much at the top."

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