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Hahn Says He Won't Accept His 2.9% Pay Hike

He acts after suggesting that a 3% raise for 900 nonunion city workers on Jan. 1 be canceled.

October 31, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

A day after proposing to cancel a pay raise for his staff, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn said Thursday that he has decided not to accept an automatic raise for himself that would boost his salary 2.9%, to $186,900.

To address budget shortfalls, Hahn on Wednesday asked the City Council to cancel a 3% raise scheduled Jan. 1 for 900 city employees who are not represented by unions, including general managers and the staffs of elected officers. Hahn didn't mention his own raise.

On Thursday, the mayor said through a spokeswoman that he could not accept the raise while asking other city employees to give up theirs.

"In these tight budget times, he is going to ask everyone to be part of the solution, including himself," Deputy Mayor Julie Wong said. "If other city employees are not going to get pay raises, he will hold himself to the same standard."

The automatic 2.9% cost-of-living raise for the mayor, City Council and other elected city officials was triggered by a provision in the city charter. It would boost the salary for the 15 council members by $4,054, to $143,838. It would be the highest pay for council members in the nation.

City Controller Laura Chick and some council members also said they would not accept the raise.

"Just as I did on the City Council, I will not accept a pay increase at the same time that we ask our dedicated employees to make the sacrifice to forgo theirs," said Chick, whose salary would have gone from $153,762 to $158,221.

The raise is retroactive to July 1, so those who accept it will get checks for back pay.

Councilman Eric Garcetti said he would give the money to a community group or city program in his district. Council President Alex Padilla said he plans to donate his raise to the children's museum planned for his district.

The city controller is legally prevented from withholding the raise money, but in the past has allowed council members to designate it for charities or city programs.

As of Thursday afternoon, none of the council members had submitted a written request to Chick to waive the raise.

A spokesman for City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, whose salary would increase to $172,605, did not return calls.

The raises were triggered by a pay hike for Superior Court judges that took effect Oct. 1. A city charter provision approved by voters in 1990 as part of a package of ethics reforms ties the pay of elected officials to that of judges in California, which is set by the state.

At that time, council members got $61,222. In the last 13 years, the charter provision has increased salaries by 134%, or more than 10% annually.

Hahn's comment that he would not take a raise came on the same day that he held a telephone conference call with mayors of six of the largest cities in California to issue a united request that Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger avoid significantly cutting state funds to cities.

"The mayors of California are united in our opposition to closing the state budget gap with local funds," Hahn said after the conference call.

He said the mayors agreed to seek a meeting with Schwarzenegger and to send him a letter offering input on the budget, but they had no specific proposal to make up for money that would be lost if Schwarzenegger carries through on his pledge to reduce the vehicle license fee.

Hahn cited the current fires as evidence that the state depends on city police and fire departments in emergencies.

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