COMPTON —The city of Compton is facing a $9.8 million revenue shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to layoff’s, and not enough money to administer the upcoming 2021 elections.
Despite the financial constraints, the city attorney, city clerk and city treasurer are all requesting raises, to take effect July 1, 2021.
They are alleging that they have increased duties and haven’t had a salary increase since 2004.
“If the City Council approves this unnecessary and thoughtless wage increase it will show residents which priorities are important to the council, said Luis Schmidt, business representative for the union that represents many city workers. “The city is in a deficit, departments have been eliminated and services affected.
“The dedicated public servants who make Compton happen every day ask the City Council to do the right thing and deny the proposal to give increases to the highest wage earners. The union does not desire to hinder anyone getting a wage increase but the timing and circumstances do no warrant the increases. John F. Kennedy said it best. ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’”
City Attorney Damon Brown has recommended his salary be aligned with the salary prescribed by law for Superior Court judges in the state. If granted, his annual salary would increase from $170,900 to $214,601.
Residents claim Brown isn’t doing his job as it relates to shutting down illegal marijuana dispensaries which the Sheriff’s Department estimates there are nearly two dozen operating.
“We don’t have the resources to spend shutting down dispensaries when the city doesn’t generate any revenue from the activity,” Mayor Aja Brown said.
Operation of an illegal dispensary is a misdemeanor and part of the city attorney’s job description is prosecuting misdemeanors.
City Clerk Alita Godwin has had her duties reduced due to her no longer running city elections. Most recently, Godwin failed to budget for the upcoming 2021 elections and City Manager Craig Cornwell presented a proposal to use Measure P funds to cover the costs.
The city clerk position is a full-time position with no benefits, and she is seeking her salary to be increased to $150,215 from $123,753. Taxpayers currently pay the Chief Deputy City Clerk a full-time compensation package of $127,807.
The city’s finance department made national headlines when the deputy city treasurer embezzled nearly $4 million of taxpayers money under City Treasurer Doug Sanders. According to Sanders, all of the employee unions have received cost-of-living increases and raises since 1993 and the city should honor his request to increase his salary from $115,753 to $150,000. The elected city treasurer position is part-time.
Residents are outraged that the city doesn’t have money to fix the streets, run elections and staff the city’s parks.
“The city just laid off 50% of our city employees because of COVID-19 and if they have money to use for salary increases, they need to hire back our critical employees first,” said resident Robert Ray.
“Salary increases when people around the country are loosing their jobs, depending on pandemic assistance programs and food giveaways to feed their families?” questioned Skyy Fisher, a former Compton school board member. “I hope the council makes the right decision and votes down these items and figures out how to bring back the staff they laid off because the city is currently running on a skeleton crew.”
2UrbanGirls reached out to Council members Isaac Galvan and Emma Sharif on the agenda item which was scheduled to be discussed during the Nov. 24 City Council meeting and they declined to respond.
“I believe in the principle of a fair city’s wage for a fair day’s work applies to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender and/or political persuasion, including elected officials,” said Carson Mayor Albert Robles. “However, in my judgment, seeking a pay raise as families struggle through the worse economy since the Great Depression, is beyond insensitive and imprudent, it’s just stupid.”
According to the city’s charter, these salary requests don’t require voter approval.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.