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Should Compton City Council members be paid the median household income of Compton?

Mayor Brown and Councilwoman Sharif want an ad hoc commission to be appointed to recommend changes to the city charter

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Photo: Compton City Council via comptoncity.org archive

Compton council members deserve a pay increase, but proceed circumspectly…

City council members perform due diligence each week tending to the business of their districts and municipalities. Council meetings — weekly for most cities — often are marathon sessions that extend for hours dealing with issues that are technical and complicated.

Compton is no different.

When Compton City Council members voted in a special session, Wednesday, August 2, to decide in a special November 2017 ballot for a council pay increase, the Compton Herald was on board. After all, the current compensation of $600 a month, or $7,200 a year —- frozen at the same rate since the City Charter stipulated it decades ago — hasn’t kept pace with inflation, and the cost of living.

Council member Janna Zurita advanced a salient point:

“Everything we do on a regular basis deserves compensation,” she said. “You want to talk about a Tuesday night job; this is a Monday-through-Sunday job.”

Compton City Council members Isaac Galvan, Zurita, and Tana McCoy supported the measure, while Mayor Aja Brown and Councilmember Emma Sharif opposed.

If the measure prevails on Nov. 7 and the city’s charter is changed, council members would be eligible to be paid the median household income of Compton, which is $43,507 a year.

The mayor’s salary would also increase, to $54,384. The Herald finds nothing wrong with that.

However, the council must proceed solicitously. The process must not be anxious. Some new stipulations should accompany a pay increase, such as council attendance. Members must maintain strict protocol in this regard. At least one official has maintained a woefully bad attendance record. The City should not compensate council members with poor attendance. Perhaps, the monthly fee should be based on days in attendance.

For her part, Brown said it was not appropriate to use a special session in August to decide how the city charter should be changed. Brown and Sharif want an ad hoc commission to be appointed to recommend changes to the city charter.

“I’m not saying this shouldn’t be addressed,” Brown said. “Let’s upgrade the entire city charter to where we want it to be in the future.”

That makes sense as opposed to taking $107,000 “pot shots” at the city charter, which is what the city clerk estimated the cost of the election would be in November.

Brown didn’t think the salary issue was a priority at this time. She said attention should be on improving city services.

“My first priority is meeting with the departments to make sure they could provide services for my constituents,” the mayor said.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.


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