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City Council Given a Pay Raise

June 15, 2005|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council received some pleasant fiscal news of the personal sort -- a pay hike from $143,838 a year to $149,160.

The raise is retroactive to Jan. 1 and works out to about 3.7% -- almost double the cost-of-living raise that many city employees will receive.

Even before the raise, council members in Los Angeles received better pay than their counterparts in the nation's other large cities. A New York City council member receives $90,000.

"I'm very grateful for every dollar that I've earned from the city of Los Angeles since 1974," said Councilman Tom LaBonge. "I work very hard for the city. I have a family and I'm going to work even harder for the people of Los Angeles."

Raises are also coming for Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, Controller Laura Chick and City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo. The mayor's salary goes from $186,989 to $193,908, the controller's from $158,221 to $164,076, and the city attorney's from $172,605 to $178,992.

The Los Angeles City Charter has since 1990 tied the salaries of elected officials to those of Superior Court judges in California. In turn, the judges' pay is determined by a complicated formula that takes into account the average raise of all state employees.

In 2003, when a hiring freeze was in place in the city, seven of the 15 council members declined a raise and some others said they would donate their raises to charity.

But no one has yet turned down the latest increase, officials in the city controllers office said Tuesday.

"It's a seven-day workweek for me -- look at my schedule," Councilman Dennis Zine said. "I'm always at council, committee meetings and community meetings.... When you look at us, we're the same salary as Superior Court judges, but they get weekends and holidays off. We're always in public view, we can't make outside income."

Zine rejected the pay increase in 2003, although he later accepted it. He said that he's considering giving this year's raise to charity.

Besides pay, elected officials in Los Angeles get other compensation. For example, council members can either accept a $500 monthly car allowance or have the city provide them a car.

The cumulative raises for all 18 elected officials are $98,541 a year. The city's budget for fiscal 2005-06 is nearly $6 billion.

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