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Elected officials in small cities get the most generous medical benefits

July 4, 2011 | 12:58 pm

The relatively small Laguna Hills offers its council members medical benefits that are triple their  $7,400 in salary.

A Times analysis of perks and benefits received by elected city officials across California found major disparities when it comes to medical coverage.

The data show that some of the most generous benefits go to part-time council members in some of California's smallest cities. For some of those officials, medical benefits significantly increase their total compensation. For example, Hawthorne's mayor is paid $7,200 in salary, but his total compensation more than triples when healthcare is factored in.

Database: Find out what your city pays in health benefits

The Times examined thousands of pages of records from 2009, the most recent year for which data are available. The analysis found that part-time council members in cities such as Industry, Vernon, Irwindale and Indian Wells, as well as Jackson in Amador County  and Sand City in Monterey County receive much more generous benefits than their full-time counterparts in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

With a population of 80,000, Lake Forest is twice the size of Laguna Hills. But when it comes to City Council perks, Laguna Hills leads its neighbor by a wide margin. Council members in Laguna Hills receive medical benefits worth an average of $24,300 a year -- among the most generous in the state.

-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: Laguna Hills. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times