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$100,000 salaries for council members in small town of Bell: Is that a crime?

June 24, 2010 |  7:38 am

TalkBackLA

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is investigating why city council members in the small, working-class city of Bell are paid nearly $100,000 a year for a part-time job.

Bell is in the news because it has agreed to take over most city operations for neighboring Maywood, which announced it will lay off all its employees on July 1.

Public Integrity Division prosecutors said a review of Bell city records showed that council members each received $8,083.25 per month. Prosecutors say that under state law and based on population, part-time council members in small cities should be paid a $400 monthly stipend (council members in Maywood earn about $300 a month). Prosecutors have asked the city for an explanation.

Bell officials say the D.A. office's numbers are misleading because they include the cost of medical insurance, retirement and other benefits, but they also defend the compensation.

"The average income for a person in our area is $32,000 and $38,000 a year," Mayor Oscar Hernandez told The Times' Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives. "In a troubled city, the city council should get paid a little more."

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