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Council to Discuss Ending Stipend for Redevelopment Agency Service

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

About twice each month, City Council members finish a council meeting and, with a quick tap of the gavel, immediately reconvene as the executive board of the Moorpark Redevelopment Agency. And every time they do, each member receives a $30 stipend.

Now, Councilwoman Eloise Brown, who is running for reelection, has proposed eliminating the fee. The agency board’s meetings, she said, often last about two minutes and involve nothing more strenuous than a few short, simple votes on minor matters of financial housekeeping.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Sept. 19, 1996 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 19, 1996 Ventura County Edition Metro Part B Page 6 No Desk 1 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong identification--A story Wednesday about the Moorpark Redevelopment Agency incorrectly identified Pat Hunter. He is a Moorpark city councilman.

“In essence, there’s no effort being expended,” she said.

Although $30 may seem a small sum, Brown said the agency has spent $10,000 on such stipends during the last three years.

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“That’s the equivalent of two grants for [housing] rehab programs,” she noted.

Her proposal has drawn mixed reactions from other council members, who are scheduled to discuss the issue tonight. Councilwoman Pat Hunter, who is running for mayor, agrees that the stipend isn’t necessary. Outgoing Mayor Paul Lawrason favors keeping the fee, saying the Redevelopment Agency should compensate board members for their participation. And Councilman John Wozniak said board members should be paid only for meetings that require serious work.

When the city created the agency in 1989, board members originally did not receive payment for their services. The change came in 1993 as a way of compensating board members for the many hours they had spent getting the fledgling agency off the ground, Lawrason said.

“In that era, there was a lot of work being done and a lot of time spent on it,” he said.

Council members can now receive a maximum of $120 each month in agency fees, in addition to their $300 monthly paycheck for City Council service. The agency also compensates members for some expenses incurred on official business, such as the costs of attending a conference on the agency’s behalf. Under Brown’s proposal, the agency would still pay those expenses.

Not all cities compensate their council for doubling as a redevelopment agency board. While Simi Valley council members get $30 per agency meeting, up to $60 each month, Thousand Oaks council members get nothing extra.

Hunter noted that because most Redevelopment Agency meetings are held in conjunction with City Council meetings, board members don’t need to make any extra effort to attend.

“We are meeting anyway,” he said. “I can certainly support eliminating the $30 stipend if that money could be better spent going back into the Redevelopment Agency.”

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Wozniak said he proposed essentially the same idea last year, only to see it die from a lack of council interest. However, he now suggests that the council create a system that would pay board members based on the amount of work done during a meeting. If, for example, a meeting included a full public hearing on an issue, members would be paid a stipend. If a meeting consisted of nothing but a vote on the consent calendar--a list of routine items often approved without discussion--then members would get nothing.

“If you’re only doing the consent calendar, that doesn’t warrant anything,” he said.

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