Council members discuss details of reimbursements

The Huntington Beach City Council is still fleshing out the details on how to restore its reimbursement pay.

Councilman Joe Carchio motioned to change the details of the reimbursement Monday, specifically limiting health insurance benefits to only council members and to bar them from receiving cash to pay for policies outside the city's program.

The item passed in a 4 to 3 vote, with Mayor Matthew Harper and council members Connie Boardman and Joe Shaw dissenting. It will require a second reading at the May 19 meeting before it can be adopted.

Carchio, who has taken issue with bringing reimbursements back since it was introduced in March, said it is fair to compensate council members, as long as they partake in various events.

"If you're going to a senior center event and you use $20 in gas, you should be compensated for that," he said. "But just to give compensation because it's compensation and you don't do anything for that compensation, then that's wrong."

The councilman added that council members who do their job should be reimbursed, but those who don't should only receive the annual salary of $2,101.

In 2012, the City Council passed an ordinance to remove expense allowances for future council members because of the financial hardships the city was experiencing during the recession.

Harper, Shaw, Boardman and Carchio are the only current council members who have retained their reimbursement privileges because they were elected before the ordinance.

Those elected in 2012 — Council members Jill Hardy, Jim Katapodis and Dave Sullivan — were the first to do without an expense allowance and were instead given $125 a month for costs they incur while on the job.

If passed, the proposed ordinance will only affect newly elected council members in the 2014 campaign.

Hardy took offense to Carchio's comments. She believed that Carchio doesn't do the same amount of work their colleague Katapodis does, yet Katapodis gets paid a fraction of what Carchio receives.

In 2013, Carchio was paid $21,264 while Katapodis received only $4,041.

"Do you intend to say that the three of us are not doing the job that you get paid for and that we deserve less because we're not doing our jobs?" Hardy said. "And if so, does that mean that by paying council members the same [amount of money] that you receive in the future will mean that we'll have more effective council members? Because that's what I was hearing tonight."

Carchio said that he attends all of the boards and commissions he's a part of.

"I am not saying that you don't deserve to [get paid]," he said. "I'm saying that you do deserve to [get paid], but given to you as pay and not compensation."

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