In the wake of the City of Bell salary debacle, State Controller John Chiang has announced new reporting requirements for California’s counties and cities, directing them to clearly identify the compensation given to elected officials and public employees. CSAC supports this requirement.
In the coming weeks, CSAC will join other city and county officials in working with the State Controller’s Office to prepare specific guidelines to change the reporting requirements under the State Controller’s Financial Reporting Guidelines for Local Governments.
California Counties are a strong advocate of transparency. In fact, the State Constitution requires this transparency for counties when it comes to the setting of compensation. Section 1 of Article XI of the California Constitution requires the governing body of a county to prescribe the compensation of its members by ordinance and the compensation is subject to referendum. Further, the governing body of the county must provide for the number, compensation, tenure, and appointment of employees. Section 4 of that same article extends this requirement to Charter Counties. In addition, California Government Code §25300 provides that the compensation of all other county officers and employees is set by the board of supervisors and that “such action may be taken by resolution of the board of supervisors as well as by ordinance.” Most counties even post salary classifications on their Web sites that can be found through a few short clicks.
Tens of thousands of hardworking California county officials and employees are committed to public service and provide vital services to 38 million Californians each day, with integrity, and often under the stress of budget cuts and rising demands. The poor choices of a few must not tarnish the reputations and honor of thousands of dedicated public servants. For local government to effectively operate, it must have public trust. While that trust has been temporarily eroded, the Controller’s new requirements will help to restore the belief – and fact – that local government is here to serve the people.
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