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Costa Mesa releases detailed report on city salaries to praise

August 10, 2011 |  8:20 am

Costa Mesa City Council

The city of Costa Mesa released an extensive compensation report for all City Hall employees on Tuesday in a document being hailed by open-government advocates as one of the most detailed disclosures they've seen.

The report, posted on the city's website, identifies 572 current and former full- and part-time employees, mostly by name. It breaks down their overall compensation for 2010 into columns for base pay, overtime, health benefits and pension costs, among other categories, the Daily Pilot reported.

"They're to be congratulated," said Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, a Carmichael-based government watchdog group. "It's far above average. I don't have any basis for saying it is among the most detailed disclosures [in the country], but I suspect it probably is."

Council members' compensation packages are also listed under the website's Transparency section.

"I think a lot of people who follow local government were shaken by stories like Bell," said Diana Lopez, senior editor for the Sunshine Review, a nonprofit advocate for state and local government transparency, referring to the L.A. County city's case of municipal government corruption. "The pros of providing the information before citizens request it is it encourages citizens to become involved in their government as watchdogs … sites like this can expose waste and fraud."

The report is a revamped version of a 2010 compensation listing that the city had posted online, and draws on the same data. The new version explains what each category means, clearly separates pay from pension costs, and even shows how city workers are compensated through special provisions such as a car allowance.

"If someone for the first time looked at both of those reports, we think it'd be easier for the general public to understand what's occurring, based on the new format," city Chief Executive Tom Hatch said.

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-- Joseph Serna, Times Community News

Photo: Members of the Costa Mesa City Council at a budget meeting on May 17. Credit: Dan Krauss / For the Times

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