Don’t be surprised if the Tustin City Council “honors” Mayor Jerry Amante with another term after tonight’s meeting; and the betting money is on Amante remaining at least Mayor Pro Tem. But the bigger question is will Jerry Amante follow the example he set at the end of October and serve the citizens of Tustin for free?
Under Amante’s urging, the Tustin City Council majority voted to let voters decide on the compensation package for city council members. What Amante left out of the equation is the additional income Tustin City Council members make by serving on various county boards. In addition to the money Amante makes as Mayor of Tustin, he gets stipends from OCTA, the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Cooridor Agency, the Tustin Redevelopment Agency and other civic boards.
From the Register’s story: Council members receive a salary of $853.11 per month, and are given the option of participating in the city’s insurance, retirement and medical plans.
Voters will be asked if council members’ monthly salary and compensation – including life insurance programs, retirement benefits and city medical and dental insurance – should be eliminated.
It will cost the city about $8,500 to put the measure on the November ballot, according to an estimate by the Orange County registrar of voters.
Councilwoman Deborah Gavello and Councilwoman Rebecca Gomez voted against the ballot measure proposal, while Mayor Jerry Amante, Councilman John Nielsen and Councilman Al Murray voted in its favor.
Proponents of the measure said it’s important to give residents the choice whether or not to compensate council members.
They also stated that eliminating compensation for council members will save the city money.
“I raise the issue because we’ve been through very tough years in the past few years, and we’ve asked our employees to step up and make contributions to their pension plans and to take salary reductions,” Amante said.
“We’ve asked the members of staff and employees of the city to make some concessions. … We need to step back and give the people that we serve the option of making (this) decision,” he said.
Amante said the hours council members spend on council-related issues far outweigh their compensation, essentially making their hourly rate a nominal amount.
Amante’s compensation just as mayor of Tustin amounts to between $28K and $33K a year depending on his appointments. City council members don’t make a lot of money for the actual hours they serve the community; we frankly don’t have a problem with elected officials being paid modest sums for their work. But the various boards Amante serves on are certainly a tremendous help for hizzhonor’s lobbying business that will be in full swing after he’s termed out. And with his service on these boards, he makes considerably more than his salary as mayor. Amante made a big deal out of letting the taxpayers decide city council compensation — with the notion it takes affect after he leaves office.
Now it’s December, and smart people are already getting ready for the 2011 tax season. So, we urge the Mayor to follow his own heart. Return all the money you made as mayor this tax season to the taxpayers of Tustin and serve as a free public servant. It’s not too late.
And Amante could follow the example of fellow Republicans Shawn Nelson, who took no compensation as a city council member in Fullerton before being elected to the County Board of Supervisors, and Jeff Lalloway, who takes no compensation as a city council member in nearby Irvine.
Tustin residents ought to be asking Amante and the Republican council majority to follow their convictions right now and not wait for the election. Guys, don’t be hypocrites. If you voted to allow taxpayers to rescind your pay next election year (at a cost of $8,500 to the taxpayers to add this to the ballot), go to the city clerks office with a check for what you’e already made in 2011 and return it to the taxpayers. Did I mention that keeping the money makes you hypocrities? I did. Good.
if you’re going to keep it, explain why.