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Mayor urges city council members to cut pay

April 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is asking city leaders to do their part to help cope with a $500-million budget gap. The mayor wants the city council to share in the financial sacrifice, but many council members are refusing to go along.It's only the day after the mayor's annual State of the City speech in which he outlined the grim fiscal choices facing Los Angeles to balance its budget. Wednesday Villaraigosa asked city employees and city council members to take pay cuts to help avoid layoffs. The city council has to improve the budget and any layoffs. According to the city controller's office, only nine city council members have taken voluntary pay cuts.

The L.A. City Council is the highest paid city council in the nation. Each council member makes nearly $179,000 per year, plus perks like a free car and free gasoline.

During his State of the City address, Mayor Villaraigosa called for shared sacrifice as the city struggles to balance the budget.

Villaraigosa has taken a voluntary 16-percent pay cut. He hopes all council members will take a pay cut as well.

Council president Eric Garcetti has volunteered for a 10-percent cut in pay. Councilman Dennis Zine reduced his own pay by 5 percent.

"If we were to all take a cut, that is a structural solution," said Villaraigosa. "We don't have to have the size of the layoffs that we're looking at."

Six council members have not put in for cuts: Herb Wesson, Richard Alarcon, Paul Krekorian, Bernard Parks, Greig Smith and Bill Rosendahl. They continue to draw full pay.

Parks is already drawing a pension from his years as an officer and the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.

"The mayor certainly has every right to ask for that, but I don't think that fills the budget," said Parks. "I think we have to get into the real issues. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars."

Bill Rosendahl said he wants to know more about the budget. He thinks the budget numbers have been all over the place, including city employee layoffs.

"I'm hopeful, and I will demand this, that this all gets laid on the table," said Rosendahl. "And if by me setting an example by taking a pay cut, I'll do it."

City employees are taking cuts through things like unpaid furloughs.

Along with Garcetti's and Zine's voluntary pay cuts, Tom LaBonge has taken a 5-percent cut in pay, and Paul Koretz has taken a 10-percent pay cut. Tony Cardenas, Jose Huizar and Ed Reyes also have taken 10-percent pay cuts. Jan Perry has taken a 5-percent cut in pay, and Janice Hahn has reduced her pay by 4.16 percent.

"I believe that if you're going to ask a secretary, a low-wage worker, a janitor, to take a cut, you ought to lead by example," said Villaraigosa.

The mayor said he was not worried about a recall effort that started Tuesday by former mayoral candidates and some local activists. Villaraigosa said he's concentrating on the budget.


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