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Los Angeles City Council examines city workers' bonus pay

June 29, 2011 9:38:02 PM PDT
Los Angeles city leaders are taking a closer look at city employee bonuses as they look at ways to cut spending. The incentive pay accounts for some $157 million in the city's budget.

A Los Angeles waste-transfer station is a busy, potentially smelly and dangerous place to work. Odor neutralizers take out much of the smell. Workers there get a salary bonus.

The LAPD SWAT officers also get a bonus. The danger in their work is obvious.

The city pays out $157 million a year in bonuses to its employees. The bonuses are basically incentives on a lot of jobs. At waste-transfer stations, they're known as "obnoxious" bonuses.

The Los Angeles City Personnel Committee received a surprising report on bonuses as it looks ways to cut spending.

"I'm looking at an incredible amount of money for bonuses and the question is, Is that justified?" said L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine.

Dog handlers get bonuses because their work is specialized and requires a lot of time and training. But there are others where there is no apparent explanation.

"There's a bonus called a 'bonus,'" said Zine. "And there are 164 of these bonuses, $827,000 a year. So it's a bonus, but what is the bonus for?"

"This report is a good first step because it gives us a sense of how big the bonus problem is, or how big a chunk of our budget these bonuses are," said L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz.

The committee wants a more detailed report on who gets what in bonuses and why. There are 256 people who get the "obnoxious" bonus that costs more than $830,000 a year.


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