July 29, 2010 8:51 AM
By Brooke Edwards and Natasha Lindstrom, Staff Writers
As public outrage brews over the city of Bell carrying some of the nation’s most bloated municipal salaries, some Victor Valley elected officials are trying to spread a message: When it comes to compensation, we’re not Bell.
Members on the Apple Valley Town Council took a few minutes during Tuesday’s meeting to state the amount of money the city pays them annually out of taxpayer dollars.
And Victorville’s city staff put out a memo Tuesday listing its council member pay, explaining that while Bell may have become a charter city to give itself power to raise salaries, “Victorville became a charter city in July 2008 to have greater local control.”
Before they agreed Monday on a 90 percent salary decrease, all but one of Bell’s five City Council members were making $96,000 a year before benefits to serve a city of 40,000 people, some 17 percent of whom live in poverty.
Now, Bell officials will make some $673 a month — closer to the monthly stipends collected by council members in the Victor Valley. The monthly stipends are:
• Adelanto — $660 for the mayor, $520 for council members
• Apple Valley — $846
• Hesperia — $650
• Victorville — $942
There are a number of benefits available to local council members, with some opting to take advantage of those plans and others declining.
In Apple Valley, for example, the town pays out an average of roughly $21,000 per council member each year to cover everything from health insurance to cell phone plans to retirement, with other local cities offering similar benefits.
In Adelanto each council member can get up to $800 per month for health insurance or cash those benefits in to cover qualified medical expenses. Apple Valley leaders get up to $725 in medical expenses; in Hesperia it’s $785 and in Victorville it’s $626 per council member per month.
One council member from each city also receives a stipend for serving on boards for the various agencies, paid out of those agencies’ budgets. Some of those stipends include:
• San Bernardino County’s transportation authority, SANBAG — $200 per board of directors’ meeting, plus $100 per regional meetings and reimbursement for mileage.
• Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District — $100 per meeting, with 6 to 8 meetings per year, plus reimbursement for mileage.
And one council member each from Victorville, Hesperia and Apple Valley gets stipends of $100 per meeting, capped at $200 per month, to serve on the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority.
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