Sauter to return at $160K

DOWNEY - A split City Council elected to bring back Mark Sauter on a part-time basis Tuesday so he can continue to head the city's emergency preparedness functions.The one-year agreement designates Sauter, the city's former fire chief, as a contracted part-time employee. He will be compensated at a rate of $160,000, and will work no more than 960 hours in a fiscal year, which began in July. The 960-hour limit is in accordance with regulations of the Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and works out to about 34 hours per week, Councilman Mario Guerra said Wednesday. Caton will report to Police Chief Rick Esteves. The decision to bring back Sauter was supported by council members Roger Brossmer, David Gafin and Guerra. Mayor Anne Bayer voted against the measure, while Mayor Pro Tem Luis Marquez abstained. In an interview Wednesday, Marquez said he supported bringing back Sauter but objected to the pay rate. "I‚Äàabsolutely want to bring Mark back, but my issue is with the fiscal aspect," Marquez said. "Where is the money going to come from?‚ÄàOur reserve funds?‚ÄàDuring the budget discussions we (the City Council) all agreed to eliminate the position. Now we're changing course? "This decision shows a severe lack of fiscal constraint and responsibility." Brossmer and Guerra defended the pay rate after rejecting an original proposal by City Manager Gerald Caton to return Sauter at $100,000 and approximately 21 hours per week. "Having Mark Sauter in this position full-time makes me feel safer," Brossmer said. "As far as I'm concerned it's money well spent." Guerra said the city will still save upwards of $200,000 per year because Sauter will no longer receive a hefty benefits package. "This is not a Republican or Democratic thing. It's a public safety issue," Guerra said. "For an extra $60,000 a year we can keep Mark in the position full-time. It's about public safety." -Eric Pierce, City Editor

********** Published: November 25, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 32