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Lathrop mayor, & city council cut their pay by 10 percent

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POSTED July 22, 2009 2:57 a.m.

LATHROP – Members of the Lathrop City Council have volunteered to give up 10 percent of their stipends in solidarity with the employees who are being hit with the same amount of pay cut as part of the effort to reduce the $2.5 million budget deficit this year.

Mayor Kristy Sayles started the ball rolling after the council unanimously voted to approve the furlough program for city employees which will reduce their work week to 36 hours instead of the normal 40 hours a week. The shorter hours translate to a 10 percent reduction in the employees’ salaries.

The 10 percent likewise translates to $525,000 saved in the general fund, bringing the budget deficit down thus far to $675,000.

That may still go up with the prospect of a financially ailing state “borrowing” as much as $730,000 from the city’s property taxes ($430,000) and gas taxes ($300,000) this fiscal year. As City Manager Cary Keaten put it during Tuesday night’s council meeting, that projected $730,000 loan to the state is “an enormous amount of money” that’s being taken from the city’s general fund.

It was that grim fiscal scenario which prompted the mayor to start the ball rolling. “I’ll be the first to ask for the same 10 percent cut in my pay check until this is no longer needed,” Sayles said.

She told city staff to expect her e-mail today with that instruction.

“This has been a difficult process, starting with the layoff (of city employees) that we did,” she said, and thanked all of the staff “who agreed to give up a day’s pay” to help the city bridge the budget deficit.

Council member Sonny Dhaliwal went as far as to inquire if the council members could act on the 10 percent pay cut that evening. However, City Attorney Salvador Navarrete explained that this is not an item calling for council action but rather a decision that council members should do individually. Dhaliwal said he also agreed to the voluntary 10 percent council stipend cut.

Vice Mayor Martha Salcedo and council members Christopher Mateo and Robert Oliver did not make any comments during the meeting. However, Mateo and Oliver stated after the meeting that they will volunteer to accept the same 10 percent stipend reduction.

Each council member, including the mayor, receives a monthly stipend of $300 and nothing else, said Cari James of the city finance department. Unlike some cities such as Manteca, Lathrop council members do not have health benefit packages or gas mileage refunds. However, they do get gas refunds when they have to attend official business trips, James explained.

To contact Rose Albano Risso, e-mail or call (209) 249-3536.

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