YOU ARE HERE: Burbank HomeCollections

Burbank employees in line for bonuses

City manager defends funds as warranted despite widespread budget woes.

December 10, 2010|By Gretchen Meier,

City employees could receive up to $1.89 million in bonuses this year, even after City Hall for the first time tapped a rainy-day fund this summer to cover a multimillion-dollar budget gap.

Facing a $5.8-million deficit in June, the City Council approved a plan that included spending cuts, fee hikes and taking $1.44 million from the city's rainy-day fund. Another $1.25 million was diverted from library and police programs — less than the budget for employee bonuses.

Still, City Manager Mike Flad said the bonuses are how the city has long decided to compensate its employees.

In fiscal year 2009-10, city employees got $1 million in bonuses out of an available $1.87 million at a time when Burbank also faced a multimillion-dollar shortfall, according to city records.


"We try to keep balance with recurring balances and expenses," said Financial Services Director Cindy Giraldo. "But it is typical in this economic climate to use these one-time funds to close the budget gap."

Other cities have imposed pay cuts and frozen their own employee bonus programs as they too struggled with their deficits. And some, including Glendale, have suspended their bonus programs altogether, citing the poor economic climate.

Despite the recession and its impact on revenues, Burbank continues to budget anywhere from 2.5% to 6% of the total pay to members of some unions for the bonuses — a structure that is negotiated into their contracts.

City officials declined to provide information on how much bonus pay went to which worker, or even a certain job classification, last year, citing personnel confidentiality rules. Instead, officials provided only lump sums paid to each employee group — and only for fiscal year 2009-10.

In declining a public records request by the Burbank Leader, the city attorney's office argued that the disclosure would violate workplace privacy protections.

"Given that the merit pay awards are directly related to an employee's performance, we believe that disclosing the actual individual amounts would violate the privacy rights of individuals relating to their performance or lack thereof," said Juli C. Scott, chief assistant city attorney, in the response letter.

The city's stance appeared to differ greatly from Glendale, which last week posted detailed information on the $1 million in bonuses paid over eight years to mid-level and top executives.

Burbank Leader Articles Burbank Leader Articles