Municipalities around the country face bloated budgets and deficits, and one such California town was so outraged by revelations that their city managers and officials were raking in salaries that three officials resigned and the City Council was forced to take action.
The city council voted to reduce its pay to that of what one councilman, Lorenzo Veles, was being paid: $8,076 a year.While getting administrative salaries in line with job responsibilities is a start, one has to wonder why no one was paying attention when these municipalities were flush with cash. The job didn't change, but the lack of fiscal responsibility began when there was plenty of money to go around (or so these people thought). Did no one notice what these three officials were getting paid?
Most of the other council members made nearly 10 times as much.
The Bell salaries have provoked statewide anger at a time when California is grappling with a near $20 billion budget deficit.
The median annual income of Bell -- which counted about 36,000 residents in the 2000 census -- is less than $35,000.
Like Mayor Oscar Hernandez, another councilman George Mirabal said he will not seek reelection.
Said the mayor in a statement: "We must restore Bell's pride in our city and that requires a full, transparent, and deliberate review of the city's actions."
Last week, the city council accepted the resignations of City Manager Robert Rizzo, Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, and Police Chief Randy Adams, who reportedly had a combined salary of more than $1.6 million.
Fiscal responsibility means looking at waste, graft, corruption, and compensation in good times and in bad. It means maintaining conservative fiscal outlooks such that you aren't hit with massive deficits when revenues fall well below forecasts and that surpluses are devoted to infrastructure and rainy day funds to tide through tougher times.
Some municipalities are starting to understand this, but many more are hoping to slide through this crisis and hope for a resumption of spending as before.