Fountain Valley Council Votes to Eliminate Its Own Benefits

Monthly stipends will still be paid, but health insurance and life insurance will be gone at the end of 2012. Retirement will not be offered to any newly elected members.

The Fountain Valley City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to eliminate health insurance and life insurance for its members at the end of 2012, and to eliminate retirement benefits for any newly elected members of the council.

"To me, getting benefits other than the stipend is excessive," said council member Steve Nagel, who originally proposed the measure and who, along with Larry Crandall and Mayor John Collins, voted to eliminate the council's benefits. "Part-time employees don't get benefits, and that's why we have part-time employees--to save money. It's incumbent upon us to take the lead."

Council members will still be paid their $475 monthly stipend. Nagel had originally proposed eliminating that as well, but changed his mind after seeing that the stipend was in line with other cities in the county, and factoring in that council members are not reimbursed for mileage, parking or other incidental expenses. Because enrollment in the public employee retirement system is essentially permanent, retirement benefits were eliminated only for new members going forward.

Council member Mark McCurdy, who receives medical benefits from the city and who, along with Michael Vo, voted against doing away with benefits, argued that serving on the council takes time away from his business, and that eliminating benefits for council members might discourage residents from wanting to serve on the council. Crandall, who also receives medical benefits from the city, wasn't convinced.

"To think that somebody would run for office just to get the benefits is far-reaching," he said. "To say that you're going to eliminate candidates is disingenuous at best. If they really have a fire in their belly, they're going to run no matter what."

The council also addressed potential changes to the city's single-family residential zoning standards in an effort to prevent what Planning Director Andy Perea dubbed the "mansionization" of the city's homes. The last changes to the R-1 zone in 2006 reduced the maximum allowable height of a single-family home from 28 to 25 feet, but this latest set of proposed changes would focus on closing a loophole in the city's requirement that the second floor of a two-story home only be 70 percent the size of the first floor.

The regulation is in place to prevent homes from looking "boxy," Perea said, but builders in the past have skirted it by building portions of the ceilings on the first floor to the same height as those on the second. The new code would limit first-floor ceiling height to 10 feet.

Nagel proposed that the overall height limited be raised to 27 feet, and that the other new regulations be implemented, and the council decided to send the matter back to the Planning Commission for further review.

Michael Vo April 18, 2012 at 10:22 PM
As the only council member currently elected NOT to receive any benefits from the city of Fountain Valley, I however want my colleagues to make their OWN choices as regarding benefits, which has been available for council members for the last 30 years. Ability to make personal choices should be cherished. Thank you.
Sea Biscuit April 20, 2012 at 12:30 AM
I commend you Councilman Vo. You are right on point and have standards that should be applauded.
I love Fountain Valley April 23, 2012 at 03:14 AM
I agree. Councilman Vo has stuck to his word about not accepting either any benefits or salary, as his personal choice. He has done an excellent job at maintaining a friendly approach with the citizens and is a great voice for all of the people of our great city.
Tricia Rutledge May 11, 2012 at 06:16 AM
I think this was a display of poor judgement on the part of 3 gentlemen who were thinking of themselves and the image they want to portray instead of the best interests of the city in the long run. If they would like to choose not to accept benefits from the city.. I'm sure that could be taken care of without putting in place something so permanent that serves only to limit future possibilities.
Carol Hakala May 16, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Once again, the City of Fountain Valley DOES NOT pay benefits to part-time employees. Why then were our City Council members granted special consideration in the past? How many years have Crandall and Collins been sucking up the benefits before their new revelation? Just saying ...


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