Measure T: Brea Approves Ballot Measure that Targets City Manager’s Salary & Upper Staff

Anti-government sentiment and the aftermath of the Bell scandal may have sealed the fate of Brea’s measure T in the mind of voters. Fifty-three percent of voters approved this initiative, which went by the innocent-sounding title of “The Accountability Act.” City officials were strongly opposed to the measure because it places an arbitrary cap on compensation for upper management, which Mayor Don Schweitzer and Mayor Pro Tem Brett Murdock argued would prevent the council from offering competitive pay to attract top-level talent.

So what exactly does this new measure do? It states that the city manager, city administrative officials, department directors, and hourly contract labor cannot receive compensation more than two times Brea's median household income, which means pay would not be able to exceed around $150,000. Notably, the measure clearly seems intended to target the city manager, as his salary will be downsized, and it’s worth pointing out that a major supporter of the measure is a former contractor who was fired by the city manager.

Measure T also excludes public safety employees from the salary cap, which means their compensation could be higher than the management employees who supervise them. Voters may have found it appealing to approve a measure that curbs the pay of municipal employees, but Measure T is certainly not even-handed in its approach.

Notably, the man behind this measure was also supporting the campaign of candidate Steven Vargas, who failed to win enough votes to capture a seat. Christine Marick and Marty Simonoff were the top vote-getters for two open seats. But prior to the election, Vargas sued the city and Brea ended up with thousands of dollars in legal fees because Vargas failed to convince a judge that the city should not have been able to attribute opposition of Measure T to the entire council. See coverage here.

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