Legal Hitch Stymies Mayor on Pay She Doesn’t Want

Times Staff Writer

Throughout her campaign for mayor, Maureen O’Connor said she thought the $50,000 salary for mayor was satisfactory. So adequate, in fact, that she promised not to take the $5,000 raise that was due as part of a general wage increase for the mayor and City Council.

Now, however, O’Connor is running into a problem.

It’s not that she wants to go back on her promise. It’s that some members of the City Council, such as Mike Gotch, want to keep the mayor’s salary at the new level of $55,000 a year.

In an attempt to let everyone get what they want, Gotch has proposed--with the mayor’s approval--that the $55,000 wage would remain with the office of mayor but that O’Connor wouldn’t have to take it.


The rub with the scheme, city officials say, is that once the council sets the salary for the office of mayor, the city by law has no choice but to pay O’Connor $55,000 annually.

“It’s authorized for the office, not the person,” Chief Deputy City Atty. Jack Katz said.

She could, Katz explained, return the $5,000 to the city and thereby keep her promise. But then, laments O’Connor, she would be forced to pay taxes based on the higher salary, even though she doesn’t want it.

“I don’t understand why we can’t do it,” O’Connor said Monday of Gotch’s proposal that would pay her only $50,000 but would retain the $55,000 salary for the office of mayor.

Katz said he has researched the matter thoroughly and there is little the city can do. But the City Council thought another week might help Katz and other city officials to find a solution. It put off a vote until then on an ordinance that would formally reduce the mayor’s wages to $50,000.