Tag Archives: South Gate

How Bell, California’s City Council Got Their Pay Raises

NPR reports that in the city of Bell, California three city administrators agreed to resign after residents expressed outrage over their salaries. City Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo earns $787,637 a year, which twice the salary of the President of the United States.

The former administrators will not receive severance packages but they will collect pension benefits.

Mr. Rizzo will collect $650,000 a year making him the highest-paid beneficiary in the state’s pension system.

What is interesting is how they got their pay raises. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Bell City Council exempted themselves from state salary limits when they placed “Measure A”  on the ballot in 2005 to change the city to “charter status” in a special election that only attracted 400 voters. Since passage, salaries for council members, who serve part-time, shot up by 50 percent to at least $96,996 a year.

The reason for the sudden switch  was a state law passed in 2005 that limited the salaries of council members in “general law” cities. A law that itself was prompted by outrage over the pay of officials in South Gate, California.

Even more interesting is that Measure A didn’t bypass salary limits for serving on city councils. Instead, it gets around the salary limit imposed on boards and commissions. The City Council members receive $150 a month for council service, and $7,873.25 a month for serving on the Planning Commission, Surplus Property Authority, and the Solid Waste Recyling Authority.

How did Bell’s Council get its salaries? By fiscal evasion.