Vernon Offers To Cut City Council Salaries to $25,000
Speaker John Perez has made it a top priority this year to put an end to corruption in the industrial city of Vernon by disincorporating it.
In response, the city has offered to make a series of reforms in a last, desperate bid to stay alive. Today, Vernon made its most substantive proposal so far, offering to slash City Council salaries from $68,000 to $25,000.
The city also proposed limiting council members to two five-year terms. and establishing a housing commission to make sure the city of 112 residents has an independent electorate. But is it too little, too late?
Vernon's lobbyists are working the corridors of the state Capitol to try to defeat the Speaker's bill, which passed out of the Assembly with a bipartisan majority last month. It is expected to move to the Senate soon, where Perez already has a majority lined up in support of disincorporation.
Vernon's business community has argued that shutting down the city would lead to higher taxes, higher utility rates and fewer jobs.
The city staff recommended the series of reforms in a report today. In addition to cutting council salaries, the city is proposing to cut the salary of Rory Burnett, the finance director and treasurer, from $340,000 to $210,000.
The City Council is expected to vote on the measures at a special meeting on Thursday.
"We're kind of holding our breath until we see the vote," said Marisa Olguin, president of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed the reforms.
Update, 4:44 p.m.: John Vigna, spokesman for Speaker John Perez, issued the following response:
"Paying less money for a council that hasn't faced an election since Richard Nixon was President doesn't make Vernon any less corrupt. This is just another example of Vernon saying or doing anything to protect their corrupt status quo."First posted at 3:22 p.m.