OC City Council Members Display Courage in Ending Outsized Benefits
Posted by Walter Myers III on March 30, 2012
If you don’t know about the the stand some Orange County city council members in various cities are taking against abuse of your tax dollars, then you will be happy to read a great article on Rancho Santa Margarita City Councilman Jesse Petrilla in the OC Register, which you can find at http://www.ocregister.com/news/petrilla-346622-benefits-council.html. Councilman Petrilla is demonstrating great courage in bringing the issue of outsized City Council benefits to the forefront. Few of us mind that City Council members get a reasonable monthly stipend for their service to their respective cities. It can often be long, hard, and thankless hours of work for those truly committed, so they deserve a token of appreciation from the taxpayers whom they serve. However, many City Councils across Orange County have taken advantage of taxpayers by voting themselves benefits that are only appropriate for full-time employees, particularly health benefits.
In my own city of Tustin, City Council members receive full healthcare benefits, which is perverse in my view because such a benefit can entice people to run for the wrong reasons. Yet Rancho Santa Margarita is particularly egregious, since benefits in excess of $65,000 not used during a term served can be placed in a retirement fund to be used later. This should have us all outraged, so kudos to Petrilla and also Mayor pro tem Steve Baric for standing against such madness that would greatly benefit them financially. The purpose of being on City Council is to serve and to give back to the community, not to benefit financially. Both Petrilla and Baric have voluntarily opted out of receiving all benefits, and are proposing that the entire City Council vote to officially end them, following the lead of the Orange City Council. The Orange City Council voted to permanently end stipends, healthcare benefits, and retirement benefits late last year. They are to be applauded for their courage as a council, and I would extend this as well to Councilmen Petrilla and Baric. Tustin would do well to do the same, and I hear there are rumblings this may happen.
On Wednesday, the Rancho Santa Margarita voted 3-2 to postpone action on ending council benefits (not exactly unexpected), so we will continue to watch this story as it develops and report back soon.