[KHTS] – Santa Clarita City Councilman TimBen Boydston has filed for $9,632.52 in damages from the city of Santa Clarita, for a claim of unpaid benefits for his service on City Council, according to documents obtained by KHTS AM-1220.
The basis of his claim is that: “It is a requirement under state law that changes to compensation of elected officials must be done in public,” the document states.TimBen Boydston at a recent Santa Clarita City Council
“Basically, procedure was not followed according to state law,” Boydston said. “The change in benefits was never addressed, and that change in benefits, in my opinion, was not legal.”
Santa Clarita City Council members voted 4-0 to keep a two-tiered healthcare system for city employees, following a city staff recommendation, on Oct. 24, 2012.
City Council members approved the benefits change for the midyear 2010-11 budget, after a recommendation from city staff members who were asked to find cost-cutting measures.
“The city of Santa Clarita claims that they changed the level of ‘cash in lieu’ of health benefits on Dec. 14, 2010, but did not actually include change of ‘cash in Lieu’ in the changes,” according to Boydston’s claim. “The changes that were never done, were supposed to have been effective Jan. 1, 2011. On Oct. 23, 2012 the Council claimed to have “clarified” their “intent” of a Nov. 23, 2010, closed session by passing Resolution No. 12-72 to say that they had actually changed the benefits of future Council members on that date.”
This change in benefits, which affected all city employees hired after Jan. 1, 2011, was done without taking the proper steps, such as a publication notice in a newspaper of record, Boydston said.
“This is about the principle,” Boydston said. “I’ve stated this before — I thought the correct solution was that if this was a true desire from our council to save money for the taxpayer, then it should be equal pay for equal work.
“They should do as I suggest and have everyone lose those benefits,” Boydston added, “and I’d be fine with that. I’m just looking for equality and parity.”
During the Oct. 23, 2012, City Council meeting, City Attorney Joe Montes was questioned by City Councilwoman Marsha McLean as to whether Boydston was eligible for the same benefits packages as the rest of the council members, under the current law.
Boydston’s medical benefits are essentially the same, Montes said, however a difference in benefits takes effect if Boydston chooses to take a cash payout instead.
The cash discrepancy between the two tiers of the plan comes out to the amount filed for in Boydston’s claim.
Back in October at the City Council meeting, City Attorney Joe Montes explained that it wouldn’t be possible to satiate Boydston’s request the way the rules are set up, unless the city decided to create a special category for employees who worked for the city left and came back, or if the city would have to adjust the pay benefits for all 32 employees the city has hired since the rules were changed.
Boydston served on the City Council in 2007 on an interim basis, completing the term of Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, who left for the Legislature.