Vernon City Council Votes For Reforms In a Bid To Stave Off Elimination

The Vernon City Council, facing the threat of elimination, voted this morning to slash their own salaries by $43,000.

Without debate, the council also voted for a package of other reforms, including term limits and a housing authority to oversee city-owned rental units. The city is trying to convince the state Senate that it is capable of reforming on its own and should not be abolished.

"This proves the city is willing to change," said Greg Longstreet, president of Farmer John, one of Vernon's largest employers. "This is a great step in the right direction."

Speaker John Perez, who represents Vernon in the Assembly, is pushing to disincorporate the city, which he has described as the most corrupt city in the state. His spokesman, John Vigna, said the reforms approved today were too little, too late.

"If they were serious, they would have done this back in December," Vigna said.

On a 5-0 vote, the council agreed to cut their own salaries from $68,000 to $25,000 per year. The council also trimmed the salary of the city treasurer, Rory Burnett, from $340,000 to $210,000. The council also agreed to a salary schedule for other executive positions that is in line with what other cities pay their top administrators.

Additionally, the council agreed to place a charter amendment on the ballot which would limit themselves to two five-year terms. The council also voted to establish a seven-member housing commission to oversee the 26 city-owned rental units.

Those city-owned units are home to the vast majority of Vernon's 100 or so residents, who pay subsidized rents.

John Van de Kamp, a former California attorney general, has been hired to recommend a series of other reforms, including compliance with open meetings laws and other issues.


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