Transparency act would make public Fresno city employee compensation packages

FRESNO, Calif.

The "Transparency in City Government Act" focuses on the public's right to know. City Council members Lee Brand and Henry T. Perea want to disclose compensation packages of all city employees - not just elected officials.

The Transparency Act would shed light on much more than Fresno city employee salaries. City Councilman Perea believes the public may be surprised by the compensation packages of some managers. Healthcare and pension contributions would be included. Perea explained, "I think there is the potential for some perks that will be eye-catching."

Outrageous salaries discovered among officials in the southern California city of Bell have resulted in a public outcry.

Councilman Lee Brand said, "This is not a knee-jerk reaction to Bell, California disclosures. You'll find that this is a very comprehensive policy that provides complete disclosure."

The Transparency Act would place closer scrutiny on consultants and vendors who can be hired by the city for up to $50 thousand without council approval. Brand said, "I'm not trying to imply anybody is abusing what the policy is. It's simply good policy to shine a light, just to keep people accountable."

Salaries of everyone from firefighters and police officers to sanitation workers and clerks would be posted.

Council members Perea and Brand will introduce their proposal at next Thursday's City Council meeting. They say unions have expressed concerns over the plan. Perea said, "It is my hope that between now and then if we can get them to a place where they're comfortable enough that they will support it."

Salaries of senior managers and elected officials can already be found on the city website.

Mayor Ashley Swearengin said the Transparency Act would require future administrations to post city salaries.

The proposal also includes benchmark comparisons with other California cities. Both council members say Fresno city salaries are at the low end or in line with other cities.

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