Local City Managers Outraged Over Salaries Of Bell Employees

City managers from cities in the surrounding area penned a Letter To The Editor and released it to media outlets yesterday, declaring their opposition to the practices reportedly going on in the nearby city of Bell. The Los Angeles Times recently uncovered the annual salaries of several city employees, and found that the city manager earns more than $850,000, the police chief more than $450,000, and each part-time (!) councilmember about $94,000 to serve a city of 37,000.

The letter was released by the Gateway Cities Southeast Los Angeles County City Managers Group, of which Long Beach city manager Pat West is a member and expresses his support for the letter below.

Letter to the Editor

On behalf of the Gateway Cities Southeast Los Angeles County City Managers Group, we write to address the alarming information reported in the Los Angeles Times articles about the compensation of the Bell city manager and other employees. Our group of 27 local city managers reacted with shock and outrage when reading these recent stories. If accurate, what the Los Angeles Times discloses as happening in the City of Bell may not be illegal, but as local government professionals and as individuals, we want to public to know that we find the reported compensation of the Bell City Manager and others in that City outrageous and a huge aberration. It is not the norm in our profession.

City Managers are responsible for the day-to-day activities of their communities. Services such as public safety, tree trimming, street and sidewalk repair, parks and recreation programming, and economic development are some of the daily activities undertaken by local government professionals. Good city managers help to steer their communities in the right direction and do not betray the trust of theur City Councils or of the citizens whom they serve. We believe that the standards of our profession do not permit placing our individual interests ahead of the community. In this case, we understand that Bell has been facing the same revenue shortfalls and budget pressures as most other communities, which makes these disclosures regarding the exorbitant compensation of the Bell city manager and other Bell employees that more difficult to understand. Let me assure you and your readers, however, that Bell is the exception and not the rule. Our profession is dedicated to public service, and not profiting at the public's expense.

The International City Managers' Association Code of Ethics states that the City Manager "should be dedicated to the highest ideals of honor and integrity in all public and personal relationships in order that the member may merit the respect and confidence of elected officials, of other officials and employees, and of the public."

The profession of city management reflects the solid American ideals of service to others, fairness, and a deep commitment to the common good. But there are, as in every profession, a few who do not live up to the standards of the vast majority of city managers. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life in our cities and encourage your readers, the public, to become active in your city and find out more about your local city government. We understand and agree with your outrage about the compensation issue with the Bell city manager and other employees in the City of Bell. Our ongoing obligation and purpose is to keep the faith and trust of the citizens that we serve on a daily basis. As public service professionals, that will continue to be our mission.


Roger L. Haley
Lynwood City Manager
Chair, Gateway Cities Southeast Los Angeles County City Managers Group

Stephen W. Helvey
Whittier City Manager
Past Chair, Gateway Cities Southeast Los Angeles County City Managers Group

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