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Controller mandates public salary release

In the wake of the Bell salary scandal, California Controller John Chiang ordered cities and counties to open their books and report salaries paid to their employees and elected officials. His office will post the results online starting in November.

Gee, if we had only known it was so easy.

Our news organization had to fight public agencies in court — and won — to obtain the release of this data. No need to wait for November, though. View the results for yourself at http://www.contracostatimes.com/public-employee-salaries.

Click here to read the Los Angeles Times’ pieces on Bell.

Click here to read PublicCEO Web site’s interviews with the League of Cities and California Association of Counties on the subject.

Read on for Chiang’s news release.

SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today announced new reporting requirements for all California cities and counties, directing them to clearly identify elected officials and public employees’ compensation. The information will be posted on the Controller’s website, starting in November.

“The absence of transparency is a breeding ground for waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars,” said Chiang. “A single website with accessible information will make sure that excessive pay is no longer able to escape public scrutiny and accountability.”

The new reporting requirements come after the City of Bell reportedly spent $1.6 million annually on just three city employees, and nearly $100,000 for each part-time City Councilmember. At the request of the City of Bell’s Interim City Administrative Officer, the Controller ordered an audit of Bell’s finances last week.

Under current law, local governments are required to transmit summary information about their revenues and expenditures to the State Controller’s office. Payroll information is included in the total amount listed for each category of program, such as public protection, health and welfare, and governing body. The data is compiled and used to produce annual reports for the Legislature. The Controller’s new rules require cities and counties to provide the salaries for each classification of elected official, such as mayor and supervisor, and public employee, such as city manager and county administrator.

City and counties generally are required to provide the information to the Controller by mid-October of each year. The Controller’s website will be updated annually to reflect the most recent data received. Local governments who fail to report timely could face a penalty of up to $5,000.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen