When I started to read the Lodi News-Sentinel’s two part article “The Cost of City Council,” I thought they had unveiled a “new city of Bell” development.
Much to my surprise, it turns out that our current council and recent past members were concerned about costs and voted to reduce reimbursed council members’ travel expenses. They are also under State of California cost control for the “stipend” they receive. In newspaper style, “$50,000 stipend for city council” got your attention! It’s actually slightly more than $10,000 per council member per year. When the minimum wage is raised to $10.10 an hour, our state may give them a raise.
Seems like the only issue that might be of significance is the medical benefits, which actually do not seem to be out of line when you consider the same situation in real world business. Some have families to cover, some are single, some are on Medicare, some have spouses that have their own benefits, etc. Therefore, the range in cost per person can vary considerably, but the council members’ benefits are not unrealistic nor are the amounts unreasonable.
According to Mr. Renison, as reported, there is no oversight of our council members’ spending, and no one screening the conferences they attend. I suggest that each member has different needs, as their education and personal experiences vastly differ. I cannot imagine the cost of having an individual do an interview with each council member to determine which conference would be appropriate, and then make all of the arrangements to keep the costs to an absolute minimum. Would this be cost effective?
Remember, according to the report, council members reduced their own expense allowance from $25,000 to a maximum total of $15,000 for all council members. I wonder how much Mr. Renison thinks could be saved with an added cost of an oversight committee and screener.
I’ve heard that a “trust but verify” policy is a valid method of running a business. It seems as though your report has just verified that we can trust our council members.
Perhaps a vote of confidence is in order.