Last week, as reported by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the City Council of La Verne, which represents a community of 32,000 people, voted to grant its city manager, Martin R. Lomeli, a 10-percent raise, bumping his annual salary to $194,580.
All this while the federal government continues to issue dire warnings about the economy, and the state struggles to pay people what they're already making, and businesses close, and ... you know the rest.
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Then, a followup published late Monday by the SGV Tribune quoted city officials defending the decision as being competitive with the salaries of other city managers in the area.
That means the managers of cities with less than one-tenth the population of Los Angeles make nearly as much as LA's mayor.
Financial crisis? What financial crisis?
It's classic government math: City X's top salary must be equal to, or more than City Y's top salary, or City X risks losing its top people. So, every so often, each city raises the pay of its top people, and so on, and so on, and so on.
But ... $200,000? Really?
The LA Times has called LA's legislative body the "richest city council," yet its mayoral post pays only modestly more than $200,000 -- an annual salary of $232,425.
I'd like to take this opportunity to point out yet again that LA is more than 10 times the size of La Verne.
However, because of term limits, LA mayors can only hope to collect that dough for a maximum of eight years. City managers can collect it for an entire career.
Using the monthly figures reported Monday, Azusa, a city of 44,700 people, pays its city manager $202,584; Claremont, with a population of 37,000, pays $205,320; and Montclair, a city of 33,000 people, pays $257,508.
Lomeli told the Tribune he was also being paid less than his counterparts in San Dimas, Chino and Upland, though only San Dimas seems a fair comparison. Chino and Upland each boast about twice as many residents as La Verne or San Dimas.
Really, I have to ask. Where do these places keep their money trees, and would they mind selling a few seeds?
-- TJ Sullivan