City makes salary information easier to find

Spokeswoman says that although Huntington has always posted the numbers, it will make sure residents can see it.

August 25, 2010|By Britney Barnes,

Huntington Beach has created an easy-to-read list of top city officials' salaries online, including benefits and two forgivable loans given to the city administrator and police chief for housing costs to move to Huntington Beach.

The city has long posted city officials' base salaries online, but after a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed top city officials in Bell were making exorbitant salaries, including nearly $800,000 a year for the city manager, Surf City, along with others, has made the information easier to access than ever, said Laurie Payne, city spokeswoman.

This month the city posted a list of executive management's annual figures, including salary, any auto allowance and benefits for council members, department directors and other top officials.


"It's the result of the unfortunate incidents that have happened in Bell," Payne said. "I think it's our way of showing we have been good stewards of the public's money."

The information was already online, but interested parties would have to dig through the website or contact city officials to help them find it, Payne said. While officials will go out of their way to help the public or the media find information, the compilation of information in one place will make it even easier, she said.

"We aren't trying to hide anything," said Councilman Joe Carchio. "I think we're fair in the salaries we pay."

The list also shows that City Administrator Fred Wilson and Police Chief Ken Small were given Housing Assistance Loans on top of their $247,208 and $204,880 annual salaries, respectively, to live in Surf City.

The loans, $200,000 for Wilson in 2008 and $100,000 for Small in 2004, don't have to be paid back while they remain in service to the city, according to city documents. Wilson gets $28,571 forgiven for each year of employment and Small gets $15,000, according to the documents.

Carchio, who was seated when Wilson's loan was given, said the city administrator was the best candidate for the job. To get someone of his caliber, sometimes you have to make loans, he said.

"It's kind of part of doing business," he said.

The loans help officials move to Huntington from areas with a significant difference in costs of living, Payne said. Wilson came from San Bernardino, Small from Daytona Beach, Fla.

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