California Controller Chiang wants salary info for city, county officials

In the wake of the pay scandal in the California city of Bell, state Controller John Chiang has ordered cities and counties to report to him the salaries of elected officials and public employees, such as city managers.

Chiang, a Democrat running for re-election in November, said in a news release Tuesday that posting this information on the controller's website "will make sure that excessive pay is no longer able to escape public scrutiny and accountability."

"The absence of transparency is a breeding ground for waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars," Chiang said in his release.

Eight employees of the controller's office are in Bell this week examining the Los Angeles County city's books, said department spokesman Jacob Roper.

Outcry erupted in Bell, a city of about 40,000, after the Los Angeles Times recently reported that the city manager was earning nearly $800,000 a year and the assistant city manager more than $376,000.

The Bell police chief's salary was $457,000, double what the police chief of Los Angeles earns. Most of Bell's part-time City Council members were earning nearly $100,000 each.

Since 1911, state government code has required that cities and counties report summary financial information to the controller each year by Oct. 15, Roper said.

The aggregate information on local governments' revenue, expenditures and liabilities is put into reports given to legislators.

Roper said that Chiang, as controller, has the authority to expand reporting requirements to include itemized information on salaries for all classifications of elected officials and public employees.

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