UPDATED – 7:55 pm, March 5 – Mayor Tait pulled the item, but it died for lack of a second.
Tomorrow night, the Anaheim City Council will discuss whether to appropriate an additional $30,000 to continue paying the salary of Mayor Tom Tait’s part-time council assistant, Mishal Montogomery, through this June, the end of the fiscal year. Although it is on the consent calendar, it is sure to be pulled for a lively debate.
Last June, just before the start of the new fiscal year, the City Council acted to reduce the mayor’s personnel budget from $100,000 to the $60,000 level of councilmembers, and then voted to shift the $40,000 balance to the Ponderosa Library computer training program. Councilmembers Harry Sidhu, Kris Murray and Gail Eastman voted in favor, while Mayor Tom Tait and Councilmember Lorri Galloway opposed the reduction (although Galloway voted in favor of shifting the $40,000 to the Ponderosa Library.
As a result, Mayor Tait needed to either adjust Mishal Montgomery’s compensation or run out of money to pay her mid-way through the fiscal year and gamble that the council would approve a supplemental appropriation. Considering Montgomery is a polarizing figure in Anaheim City Hall, that is a gamble with long odds.
It raises serious questions: should the mayor have a personnel budget that is 50% to 67% larger than his council colleagues? Since the mayor didn’t operate within his reduced personnel budget in a way that ensured Montgomery could be paid through June, should he be rewarded with a mid-year appropriation that equates to asking the council to rescind its June 2012 vote? Would that be fair to council members who operate within their personnel budgets?
Although partisans from the council factions will surely question each others’ motives, no one can dispute that since June of the last year the Mayor has known with mathematical certainty that if he didn’t revise his personnel budget to change how much he paid his council aide, he would run out of money to pay her well before the end of the fiscal year. He didn’t make those adjustments, and his council colleagues will have to decide if it is fair to reward that with more money.
Two of the councilmembers who voted to reduce the mayor’s budget in June, Eastman and Murray, are still there and sure to stand by their votes. Since Mayor Tait was behind funding for a harsh hit piece in the last election that attacked Councilmember Jordan Brandman’s integrity, it’s tough to see him voting to boost the mayor’s personnel budget. Councilmember Kring is more of a question mark. Tait endorsed and supported her in the election, and she’s on the host committee for his March 14 re-election fundraser. On the other hand, she would hhave been elected with or witout his endorsement, and does she want to vote to reward the mayor for not dealing with the budgetary reduction approved by the council last year?
We will see where the chips fall tomorrow nght.