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Other California cities pay big money to their managers

A survey by state lawmakers shows that some municipalities make six-figure loans to officials to buy houses and provide benefits that more than double base pay.

September 23, 2010|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Sacramento — Although eclipsed by the pay in Bell, other cities throughout California are heaping big money on their top managers, including six-figure loans to buy houses and benefits that more than double base pay, according to a study released by state lawmakers Wednesday.

The report also found that more than two months after the Bell scandal, many cities are still not doing enough to make it easy for the public to find out what top officials are paid.

Issued by the staff of the state Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review, the report said most cities reported posting salaries on their websites, but "city websites were often difficult to navigate and … many cities posted incomplete information."

A survey of benefits by the panel found that Palo Alto's contract with its city manager offers him up to $1.5 million to buy a house that would be co-owned by the city, plus a $500,000 home loan. The Sunnyvale city manager's contract allows a $900,000 home loan at below 1% interest, and Huntington Beach's city manager contract allows a $200,000 home loan.

Among other benefits: The Long Beach city manager's contract provides for six months' severance pay if he is terminated.

The study concluded that city manager benefits can add significantly to total compensation, equaling as much as 40% to 245% of the base salary.

"For example, the city manager of Riverside has a base salary of $289,864; but total compensation was more than $419,000, in part because the city pays both the employer and employee share of retirement costs," the report said.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

For information about Bell city salaries, please go to latimes.com/bell.

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