Eight Councilmembers (Austin Dissenting) Vote To Approve Mayor/Mungo Proposal To Spend Estimated $87,000 More Annually (Gen'l Fund) To Pay All Mayor-Chosen Appointees To City Hall "Advisory" Comm'ns And Double Sums Payable To Charter Comm'ns
|(Jan. 8, 2020, 10:35 a.m.) -- The City Council voted 8-1 (Austin dissenting) at its Jan. 7, 2020 meeting to approve an item co-agendized by Mayor Robert Garcia and Councilwoman Stacy Mungo (his choice to chair the Council's Budget Oversight Committee) that will begin paying sums for meetings attended by all (not just some) members of Mayor-chosen City Council-created "advisory" Commissions (most of whom volunteered to serve without pay.) The Council vote also approved doubling sums paid to appointees to several decision-making City Charter-created Commissions.
City staff estimated that if all the Commissions meet at their 2018 schedule, the Council action will cost LB's taxpayers roughly $188,950 per year more for all City funds, with $86,725 per year more from LB's General Fund.
The Mayor/Mungo proposal approved by the Council majority will do the following: :
[Scroll down for further.]
|Also continuing to receive $50 per meeting: members of LB's Board of Examiners, Appeals, and Condemnation and appointees to the Metropolitan Water Dist. of Southern California.
Although five advisory bodies are currently ineligible to receive $50 per meeting (Belmont Shore Parking and BIAA Commission; Board of Health and Human Services, Cultural Heritage Commission, Economic Development Commission and Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Board), the Mayor-Mungo proposal asks the City Attorney to research and return to the Council within 90 - 120 days "with any changes necessary to compensate the Boards, Commissions, and Committees currently prohibited from receiving compensation payments from the City."
Two other entities are Council-appointed but legallly-separate and not slated for compensation under the agenda item: the LB Transit Board of Directors and LB Community Investment Co.
A decision was entirely discretionary with the City Council. Councilmembers could have voted "yes," or made motions for amendments, or voted "no." Prior to casting his dissenting vote, Councilman Al Austin stated that while he didn't oppose the payments proposed for Charter Commission members, he didn't support beginning payments for all of advisory bodies in view of upcoming City Hall budget challenges. Mayor Garcia responded that he believes all who serve on City Hall Commissions should be compensated. No other Councilmembers spoke before casting their "yes" votes.
Taxpayers Ann Cantrell and Corliss Lee signed up to speak on the item but were momentarily engaged in speaking with others in the audience about the hearing that took place just minutes earlier in which the Council voted (without dissent) to deny appeals by Citizens About Responsible Planning (whose appellants and primary speaker was Ms. Cantrell) and the Sierra Club (in which Ms. Cantrell was a co-appellant.)
On August 13, 2019, the Council's "Budget Oversight Committee" (Mungo, Price, Austin) voiced no opposition to management's proposal to begin the payments but chair Mungo suggested a tweak that would cap annual amounts payable.
On November 8, 2019, city staff provided the Budget Oversight Committee with a non-agendized memo indicating that if the Commissions meet at the same frequency as in 2018, the annual cost for Commission meetings under management's initial proposal would be roughly $261,750; (all funds) and with the Mungo tweak would be roughly $258,925 (all funds.) The General Fund cost would be roughly $112,225.
(If the Commissions meet more frequently, the cost could be higher; the November 2019 memo indicated that if all Commissions were met to their legal max, management's proposal would cost $733,200 (all funds) and Mungo's tweak would cost roughly 494,000 (all funds))
[Numerical caveat: Councilwoman Mungo's August 2019 tweak sought to pay the Economic Development Commission and LB Transit Board $75 per meeting, but since these bodies are now deemed ineligible, we presume they're not included in the Jan. 7, 2020 estimated incremental costs.]
The Jan. 7, 2020 Mayor-Mungo agendizing memo applied a different metric in displaying cost. It used the "incremental" (i.e. increased) cost (instead of total taxpayer costs for Commission meetings used in management's Nov. 2019 memo.) City staff estimates the incremental (additional) cost is estimated to be $188,950 per year for all funds, $86,725 per year from the Gen'l Fund (if the bodies meet at their current 2018 meeting frequency.)
In terms of Fiscal Impact, the Mayor-Mungo agendizing memo states:
Funding for any changes in compensation to the advisory bodies in FY 20 would be addressed through the identification of one-time funds along with other negotiated employee compensation costs impacting FY 20 and incorporated into the structural budget as part of the FY 21 budget development process....
In mid-2018, the matter of what subjects advisory commissions can discuss and offer advice on begat a loud controversy. An item appeared on the July 10 City Council agenda (i.e. after 2018 Mayor/Council elections) that proposed to tighten city management control over subjects discussed or voted on by the advisory bodies. First reported by LBREPORT.com here, it proposed to have the City Attorney draft Municipal Code provisions to prevent LB City Hall "Advisory Bodies" from agendizing for Commission discussion items not approved by the City Manager of his staff. (The non-elected City Manager answers to the elected Mayor and Council.) The same item also proposed to give the Mayor the power to remove Advisory Commissioner(s) without publicly stating any reason with Council majority voted approval.
The agenda item triggered pushback from some Commission members and from the public on social networks...and Mayor Garcia abruptly moved to temporarily head-off a public confrontation on the matter. Near the start of the Council meeting, Mayor Garcia stated: "Items 25 and 26 are going to be postponed...and also item 27 which is more of a technical report from city management on commissions as they relate to the way they operate. I've asked staff to please bring that back at a later date once they do a little bit more outreach with both Councilmembers as well as some of the Commissioners and Commissions and so that will be my request...")
On January 8, 2019, then-City Manager Pat West quietly advised Councilmembers that Mayor Garcia and the City Manager had taken the following steps:
[Jan. 8, 2019 memo]...To conduct a thorough review of the City's advisory bodies and receive information from a diverse cohort of stakeholders, the City Manager's Office collaborated with the Mayor's Office to create an informal working group of current Commissioners to review the status of the City's advisory bodies and report back to the City Council. The working group will conduct a comprehensive review of the proposed changes to the City's advisory bodies, as well as provide input and recommendations to the City Manager. Members of the working group will be selected by the Mayor and City Manager.
On June 14, 2019, a follow-up memo appeared indicating that city staff planned to move forward with putting changes into effect "that address common administerial enhancements" -- including compensation changes -- before moving forward to implement "the full menu of proposed changes to the advisory bodies..."
Jan,.4, 12:25 p.m.: Typo in headline corrected to show $188k (not $186k), accurately reported in article text.
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