More Council Benefits Clarification

When Candidates for Mayor or City Council submit questions to the city, the city responds and includes all of the Candidates on the communication of that response.  The content of the response then becomes public record. I find these inquiries and the content you learn from them fascinating, and I wanted to share some of that with you this afternoon.

In the attached document, you’ll find a series of questions submitted to and answered by the City. One of the questions that fascinated me was this:

How much does each City Council Member receive for being on various committees and boards, including non-governmental boards?

As Candidate for City Council Ken Sandberg pointed out, the compensation issue in the City of Bell included pay for participating on various boards and committees, not just the base salary and benefits from the Council Member position.

The city responded that a $30 per meeting payment is made to Council Members for their attendance of Community Development Agency meetings (maximum 2 meetings per month). However, for any compensation paid for participation on boards outside of the City of Simi Valley, those boards or organizations would have to be contacted directly. A list of those boards and Commissions was attached to the response.

Additional questions submitted and answered by the City suggest that one or more candidates is questioning claims that a Council Member position is essentially a full-time position due to the weekly hourly commitment. Two questions were asked, prompting the city to respond that it 1) does not keep records of proof of any participatory hours for any Council Members and 2) that no part-time City staff positions receive full-time benefits and 3) Council Members are excluded from the “part-time/full-time” designation as elected officials per the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The document includes other questions and answers, and I encourage you to download it and give it a read! Do so by clicking here.

17 thoughts on “More Council Benefits Clarification

  1. Mike Chandler, it goes back to what the City Manager said in a newspaper article several weeks ago: a previous City Council group about 20 years ago, maybe before that, made the decision to give City Council members the same benefits package as the City’s executive management. This is a very, very important point.

    Someone long ago made a policy decision that City Council members will get the same benefits as City management – whatever that may be.

    Here’s the Question of the Day: Which City Council made that decision? Anyone want to bother to look it up?

    How many hours they work per week is moot; the “part time” or “full time” words are merely words on paper filed in a job description. It’s a policy decision that was made by a City Council sitting before any of the current City Council members were elected.

    Could the current City Council members have addressed it? Certainly. But no one has raised concerns. The fact that it was raised now, only the past month right before an election, speaks volumes as to motive.

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  2. Richard,

    Motive is irrelevant. Character IS relevant. Character is displayed when people do the right thing when nobody is watching. Clear enough for you? Unfortunately, Mr. Sedell has led them down this road which they have followed like lemmings. Just look at the League of cities salary comparisons. Sedell has acknowledged he makes in the 300,000 plus range in total compensation, yet he reported 237,000 to the league of cities. Transparency? Now that we ARE watching, the dirt is pouring out. Maybe someone should forward that fact to the Attorney General who is actively investigating all City Managers who have total compensation packages in excess of 300,000 ” according to the League of Cities.” Character examples for the Council have been set, and if they would act independently instead of simply following what ” Mike likes,” we might have a chance at actual leadership instead of virtual leadership.

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  3. Monty, motive is hugely relevant. Many, many everyday Simi Valley residents right now want to know who’s behind pushing the information mysteriously at the tail end of a campaign. Residents know the police officers union ran the ads last year, and protested at the home of a Councilmember early on a Saturday morning and scared his kids a great deal. A lot of residents are still very mad about that.

    And voters never like personally selfish motives. Notice no challenging candidate is taking credit for “discovering” all these City Council benefits. Letters to the editor are surfacing. If voters learn that a candidate is disseminating the information to the public for the sole purpose of getting elected, well, voters are not going to take it very well in my opinion.

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  4. This issue isn’t from the last month. That is factually incorrect. The police officers union brought it up long ago. But until recently the city didn’t do much to clarify the issue.

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  5. I think you are missing the point all together. if you want to blame challengers for outing the immense benefit packages paid to the current “Part Time” City Council the go ahead and blame them, Blame me for that matter because I didn’t know about the benefit package until the POA put it out and made it public. The point is why was it treated like a secret is there a guilty conscience out there. Two of the challengers have openly stated that when elected they will not accept the Health and Pension Benefits I am one of them. I haven’t heard a peep from any of the current elected officials about giving up these lucrative benefits that are better than the benefits that our full time Police Officers get. So much for transparency remember to vote out all incumbents this November and bring back transparency to our local government.

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  6. The challengers are not to blame for the discussion on benefits packages, I agree with Mike Judge on that.

    As far as incumbent positions on the matter, Glen Becerra said on the recorded candidate discussion that if the voters didn’t want Council Members to receive benefits, then he would go with what the voters want. I believe him.

    I don’t think the problem is the health benefits, but the retirement benefits that should be considered objectionable. It’s the indebted PERS system that is suffering here. While it once represented a well invested set of assets that prompted government employers to offer generous retirement packages, the economy has hammered it like everything else and pension reform should now be a top priority. Interest isn’t compounding like it was 10 years. To pay out these pensions, government bodies like the City of Simi Valley have to scrape it up from somewhere.

    In my opinion, that should be the emphasis of the topic of benefits…

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  7. “Those are clearly unsustainable benefits the community cannot afford to provide.” For 5 positions out of what, 800 employees in the city? . Unsustainable is quite the dramatic word for a handful of positions.

    We also cannot afford to keep paying overtime to police officers to stand around at girls high school volleyball games.

    If we are going to address one area of unnecessary cost, let’s address them all. It should be all or none.

    It costs the City about $2 million EVERY year in overtime pay for police officers. Compare that with the City’s overall budget, and explain what is “unsustainable.”

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  8. While Becerra said that they would get rid of the benefits if the public wanted them to, nothing is being done to allow the public to vote on this issue.

    I have no problem with the full-time benefits IF they work FULL-TIME as a Council member and quit any other full-time employment.

    The delayed benefits are also an issue since while they might not get it today, they can use it later, when it is more expensive.

    If there was full transparency, as was claimed, then we, the public, would know how much money the Council members are getting from ALL the boards that they are on, not just the government boards either.

    In regards to the motives, the City of Bell has been an eye-opener with respect to how things work. Who would have thought to ask about all the money they get from the boards? How would the public have known to ask how the Council was getting all the benefits that they get? If you don’t know to ask a question, then you won’t find out what the whole story is.

    The bottom line is that if there was full transparency, then all of this information and more would have already been known, rather than just being found out.

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  9. I agree with Ken.

    How can someone working 14 hours per week get over $3100 in benefits per month.

    Also, my wife is a teacher in Simi Valley. Her benefits continue to get hammered each year.

    This year, the Simi Unified School District is not only making teacher contribute to health care but also decided to not cover their spouses. If their spouses can get coverage from their employer and it cost less than $250 per month, they have to take it.

    Meanwhile, the city is paying a PART TIME council member $3100 per month for benefits!!!! That is not fair.

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  10. For the record, I do not have government paid healthcare. I have Keith Mashburn paid healthcare. I know I was not named specifically in the above comment, I just don’t want anyone to be confused as I did work for the government.

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  11. I have seen newspaper articles talking about the Council wanting to do some pension reform, but it seems it is always in regards to others, not their own pensions.

    I think that it is also important to realize that the Council members receive money from being on various boards, both government and non-government boards (some are mentioned in the campaign ads). I would like to really see the “full transparency” and have ALL of the money that a Council member receives (excluding a full-time position).

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  12. Ken, what is your idea as a new council person? You said you wont take the benefits, but what will you do to reform pension programs for council members who are taking the benefits. What will you do if elected to right the situation.

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  13. Actually, I did not say that I would not take benefits, just not for a part-time job. To be specific, the benefits should only be for those who work full-time, just like the rest of the employees. I am not sure that there is enough real work to do full-time, not the claim that eating and drinking is part of their “work”.

    I am not sure of what can be done since there are limits in the laws. Personally, I feel that the Council getting full-time benefits for a part-time job is fraud and, if possible, all past years should be revoked and all past payments *should* be repaid. I doubt that this will happen though.

    If there are enough new people on the Council, then the full-time benefits should be able to be voted out. There could be three new people on the Council, which would be a complete change in power (unless one of the three is appointed by the current Council).

    At a minimum, there should be a Council discussion on this issue. In my opinion, the people should be able to vote on it. Becerra said that if the people did not want them to have the benefits that they would get rid of it, so he should be one of the first to allow the public to vote on it. Also, in the future, all compensation, including the various boards, including non-government boards, should be put on the City web page so that the public is informed. It is not reasonable to claim that each and every person can track down this information, if they want.

    What I would ask you to do is to let others know what is going on and get them to speak out. If you and others follow what the Council is doing and demand that they make the information easy to access, then abuses like this will cease to exist. If you don’t care, then things will continue as business as usual, storms blow over and people forget.

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  14. So, if we just raise the base salary to the legal limit, remove all benefits, each council person can purchase whatever health care plan they wish. I just say, let the voter decide in public hearings if the council should go in this direction. I can’t imagine the council not wanting to hear from those they serve. And since it seems so difficult for the current council to disclose their entire package, this will make it easy for them to become transparent.

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  15. Ted above said, “The code above clearly shows that the intent of the city council position is a ‘PART TIME’ gig.” Where in the block of text posted above is the term “part time” stated?

    The term part time is just semantics listed in a job description on paper somewhere in City Hall; it does not accurately describe the amount of hours the job commands. It needs to be revised.

    And as long as the sophomoric acronym game will be played, from now on let it be known that Mr. Mackel leads the Union of Simi Socialite Repiners (USSR).

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  16. Wow… eye opening bit of reading there! What a racket! Judging by the dates they were appointed to these committees and such, Some of these Simi Valley politicians have been “possibly” working the system since 1998… I just stumbled onto this, How come this isn’t common knowledge!? People have a right to know before they hit that voting booth! That’s why I’m not voting for one single incumbent this November.PERIOD!

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