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New Salary Posting Enrages City Of Bell

The salary and perks for Bell city officials was posted online by the interim city administrator, sparking yet more anger today about the high compensation packages for city officials.

The Los Angeles County city of about 40,000 residents has been the focus of national attention since last month, when the Los Angeles Times reported City Manager Robert Rizzo was being paid $787,637 annually, Police Chief Randy Adams $457,000, and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia $376,000.

In addition, the mayor and three of the other four council members were being paid around $100,000 for their part-time jobs.

The highest paid officials have since resigned, while the mayor and council members have agreed to reduce their salaries by 90 percent, but so far have refused to step down.

The new information, posted Friday night, show that Lourdes Garcia, director of administrative services, was earning $422,707, and Eric Eggena, director of general services, $421,402.

Director of Community Services Annette Peretz, earned $273,542, a deputy city engineer $247,573, the business development coordinator $295,627, a police captain $238,075, and a police lieutenant $229,992.

The amounts included salary, deferred compensation and benefits, which city officials did not fully detail, The Times reported.

In addition to Rizzo’s salary, he was getting nearly $1.5 million a year in total compensation, including more than 20 weeks a year in vacation time.

According to The Times, Rizzo was to receive $386,786 for 107 vacation days and 36 sick days a year, and the city paid $48,996 a year into Rizzo’s deferred compensation plans.

Casso said city officials were still analyzing the compensation agreement.

Bell’s new interim city attorney told The Times the city planned to investigate who approved the perks and whether they were legal.

“It appears Rizzo was getting an inordinate amount of hours of vacation and sick benefits and being paid for it,” said Jamie Casso of the law firm Meyers Nave. “We’re looking to see when it was approved, whether it was approved at a City Council meeting and who approved it.”

A compensation expert told The Times Rizzo’s compensation was “extraordinary.”

“This is extraordinary, it is outlandish and in absolutely no way represents” normal compensation for city managers, said Dave Mora, West Coast regional director of the International City/County Management Association and a retired city manager. “Extreme is a kind word.”

Both the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the California Attorney General are investigating the high salaries.

The city’s acting administrator released the compensation numbers Friday afternoon at a contentious news conference that was interrupted at times by furious community activists.

At Friday’s news conference, Acting City Administrator Pedro Carrillo said Bell plans to begin a study of salaries to “make sure they are commensurate with experience” and job responsibilities.

“We will take some very firm and bold moves,” Carrillo told reporters. “It could mean termination or reduction.”

Today, he issued a statement saying the city was trying to mend its ways.

“We have established new protocols to ensure Bell is an open government and released all current city staff salaries and compensation,” he said.

“Due to the voluminous requests for public documents regarding the former administration, I have also ordered the finance director to provide the total compensation packages for the former CAO, the former assistant CAO and the former police chief. That information is now available.

“In addition, I directed the new city attorney to launch a full investigation to analyze the legality of compensation packages for all employees as well as the departed administrators.”

A representative for the Bell Association to Stop The Abuse (BASTA) was critical of the document that itemized Bell administrators’ salaries.

“The document is anything but transparent and seems to be another attempt by Bell administrators to keeps facts about abuse of public funds from Bell taxpayers,” Violeta Alvarez, a spokeswoman for the organization, said in a statement.

“What the document does reveal is that Rizzo’s abuses extended to every administrative position in the city of Bell,” Alvarez said. “More than $45,000 a month in administrative salaries. That is an outrage!”

The data made public on the website,www.bellcityclerk.org/pdfs/bell_salaries.pdf, does not disclose information concerning the compensation of officials in relation to the Public Finance Board, the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Community Housing Authority, the Planning Commission and other entities, according to BASTA.

Based on the document, the citizens’ group “is demanding the immediate resignation of other administrators making disproportional salaries as compared to their contemporaries in other cities.”

“The remnants of the Rizzo administration that are still running the city must think BASTA’s leaders are not paying attention to details,” said spokesperson Cristina Garcia. “We certainly are! They can’t simply release information riddled with half-truths and call it transparency. We will not stop until ethical and honest government is restored to the city of Bell.”

The Bell Association to Stop The Abuse bills itself as a coalition of concerned Bell residents and the Bell Police Officers Association.

KESQ News Team

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