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SAN CLEMENTE : Council Rescinds City Manager’s Raise

The City Council this week unanimously voted to rescind a controversial $5,000 raise it recently approved for City Manager Michael W. Parness.

After residents criticized the raise, originally approved 4 to 1 on Dec. 1, there was some doubt that it would receive final ratification by the council.

Councilwoman Candace Haggard, who originally voted in favor of the raise, announced after the public outcry that she would reverse her decision and join Councilman Thomas Lorch in voting against it.

At that time, Councilmen Scott Diehl and Truman Benedict said they would continue to support the raise despite the public uproar, and Mayor Joseph Anderson remained undecided.

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But in a letter to the council last week, Parness made it easier for the council to rescind the salary increase when he offered to defer the raise to quiet the public uproar. Parness, city manager since 1989, currently earns $99,000 a year and was given the same 5% raise that other city employees received.

But the timing of the raise, approved at the same meeting during which the council discussed forming a citizens committee to find solutions to the city’s projected $2.5-million budget deficit next year, drew a storm of protest.

Haggard praised Parness for offering to defer the raise.

“For the city manager to willingly give back that money when he wasn’t sure how the City Council would vote was very generous,” Haggard said. “I think that by turning it down, he proved to the community that he was worth it.”

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