The Huntington Beach City Council voted to cut the community services director's pay — before anyone gets the job.
The council voted 6 to 1 Monday to lower the open position's annual salary range to $143,840.40 to $178,163.28. It originally was $155,750.40 to $192,962.88.
Councilman Jim Katapodis dissented, saying he wanted to lower the range even further to save the city more money.
His colleagues, however, slowly sided with Councilman Dave Sullivan, who said the city needs to remain competitive with other Orange County cities.
Neighboring Newport Beach offers a starting annual salary of $133,344 to $162,420 for its community services director job, according to a staff report.
"It's not about being fair," Katapodis said. "I understand that they do a lot of work. I pride them on their work." He said he simply
wanted the council to be fiscally responsible.
"I think [the] Community Services Department is a great department and they do a great job, but I'm talking about the beginning salary," Katapodis added.
The community services director oversees the Community Services Department, issuing special event permits and assessing programs for parks, recreation and senior services.
The position has been vacant since December 2009, according to the staff report. Former Deputy City Manager Paul Emery handled the job's duties until he resigned in December 2012. The city has looked to fill the position since then.
City staff looked into reducing the salary after changes were made to the job description. The community services director will no longer control the Marine Safety Division, according to City Manager Fred Wilson. The Fire Department will instead oversee that division's operations.
"I think this [salary cuts] should be done as a whole instead of piecemeal," Councilman Joe Shaw said. "By just choosing one department and starting there, I don't think that's the right message we need to send …[Katapodis'] heart is in the right place and I think your mind is in the right place, but I don't think we need to take a piecemeal approach on this."
Hypnotism ban lifted
In other news, council members unanimously voted Monday to repeal the ban on hypnotism in the city.
The ordinance that was adopted in 1979 will officially be repealed 30 days from Monday.
Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Harper and Councilwoman Jill Hardy came across the law one day while they were going through old ordinances.
Council members joked with each other during the May 16 meeting, with Councilman Joe Carchio swinging his iPod charger like a pendulum, trying to hypnotize his colleagues.