Last week, Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) amended his Senate Bill 501 to address disclosure of public salaries and other compensation.
The measure is intended to prevent the type of abuses uncovered by the City of Bell scandal, in which city councilmembers and management staff were being paid extremely high salaries.
SB 501, which can be viewed here, requires any public official or employee of a local agency who files a Form 700 to also file a compensation disclosure form that provides compensation information for the preceding year.
The bill mandates disclosure of salaries and stipends, reimbursement for expenses, employer’s cost of providing benefits and other monetary or nonmonetary perquisites provided. If a local agency has a website, the information contained on the filed compensation disclosure form must also be posted on the agency’s website.
No monetary penalties exist for failure to comply. Instead, the district attorney or any interested person may demand compliance and the public official or designated employee would then have an opportunity to cure or correct the violation. If the official or employee is still not in compliance, then the district attorney or interested party may commence an action by mandamus or injunction to compel compliance.
CSDA supports transparency and the bill’s general goal of public access to public information. However, it is important that any new state mandates in this area are well thought out and well vetted so as to ensure the most fair, accurate and cost-effective means of disclosure. CSDA has engaged the author’s office and communicated those items that require further attention or clarification within SB 501.
The Assembly Local Government Committee will first hear SB 501 on Wednesday, August 18. As the bill moves forward, CSDA will continue to work with the Legislature.