Breaking down the numbers [CORRECTED]

Costa Mesa's website has made it easier to view City Council members' salaries, benefits.

June 29, 2011|By Sarah Peters,

COSTA MESA — A simplified breakdown of City Council members' monthly salaries and benefits was posted on the city's website this week.

The publication of the information is part of an effort to increase transparency, Costa Mesa city spokesman William Lobdell said in an email.

The information shows a simplified five-row list that was formerly included in a master list with more than 750 entries.

Council members receive $904.40 a month in salary and $1,595 a month in health benefits, which includes medical, dental and life insurance, and long-term disability. [This corrects how much the council members receive in health benefits.]


Only Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, a fiscal conservative at odds with the city's employee associations over compensation, declined the health benefits, which did not mesh with his political platform when he was elected in November, he said Wednesday.

"It just didn't seem like I could discuss these issues and then take the health benefits," Righeimer said. "It just didn't seem right."

Using that same reasoning,

Righeimer said he also opted for a 3.75% Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS), which is equally matched by the city, as opposed to taking a 10.469% CalPERS plan, which the city then contributes 12.114%.

Councilman Steve Mensinger is also listed under the PARS pension plan.

In Newport Beach, council members' monthly salaries break down to about $1,203.64 and $1,707.66 for the mayor, according to the city's 2010-11 fiscal year budget.

Starting Friday, the mayor and council members will receive the same salary of $1,203.64 under the 2011-12 fiscal year budget, according to city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan.

In Irvine, a council member's monthly salary is $880, according to city spokesman Craig Reem.

In a recent study released by the Orange County Grand Jury, Irvine was listed as having the highest-paid City Council in the county at about $1,760 a month. The study, however, calculated that total based on two, not one, base salaries: the City Council and the board for the Orange County Great Park, according to Reem.

"The Grand Jury's table of total compensation for City Council work erroneously includes base pay for work as Orange County Great Park directors," Reem said via email Wednesday. "The five members serve, in a separate and distinct capacity, as members of the Board of Directors for the Great Park Corp. The annual salary for members of the Irvine City Council ought to reflect $10,560, not, as the Grand Jury added up, $21,120."

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