Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre was paid nearly $60,000 for unused leave, a provision that raises questions because he was the only elected official to receive annual leave, a recent audit found.

The report from City Auditor Eduardo Luna found that Aguirre didn’t break any rules but suggested the City Council and independent budget analyst review the issue.

The mayor and council members, unlike the city attorney, are considered members of the “executive group” under the salary ordinance and they don’t receive leave. However, the city attorney receives leave, even though the position falls under the legislative group for retirement benefits. The audit states:

Although, no regulations or City policies were violated, the City should consider the appropriateness of having the City Attorney position in both the executive group for Salary/Annual Leave benefits and the legislative group for retirement benefits.

The audit notes that the city attorney already receives 80 hours of administrative leave each year, which can be used as time off. It states that the city could potentially pay out $65,542 if a city attorney used none of the annual leave over a four-year term and $131,085 over an eight-year term.

The audit noted that the process to set the city attorney’s salary didn’t comply with the city charter. The annual salary ordinance approved by the council included a range of $73,260 to $292,596. But the audit said there was “no supporting documentation” to show the council actually set Aguirre’s salary and that the former city attorney “assumed his predecessor’s ending salary.”

In a response, Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin agreed to work with the City Council to address the leave issue and to establish a process to set the salary.

RANI GUPTA

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