Closed Session Performance Evaluations
Q: On the City Council agenda it states under closed session: Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957 and 54957.6, the City Council will meet with the City Administrator, to hold performance evaluations and consider the salaries for the Director of Parks and Trees, the Director of Community Development and Public Works …..
All department heads are up for evaluation and they are wanting salary increases. All department heads are also contract employees and bargain directly with the Council for increases to benefits and salaries.
I believe the council must discuss in open session all salary increases not in closed session. The City says placing this on the agenda stating they will discuss salaries in closed session makes it legal as long as they come out of closed session and state what action, if any is taken. Is that true or must they discuss salary increases in open session?
A: The California Brown Act states that, except for closed sessions to meet with the city’s negotiator in bona fide labor relations situations concerning represented and unrepresented employees, “closed sessions may not include a discussion of or action on proposed compensation except for a reduction of compensation that results from the imposition of discipline.” Gov’t Code section 54957(b)(4). Consequently, the city’s plan to discuss salary increases in closed session would appear to violate the Brown Act, and that violation would not be cured by stating after the closed session what action was taken. As the California Court of Appeal has said, “Salaries and other terms of compensation constitute municipal budgetary matters of substantial public interest warrantingopen discussion ….” San Diego Union v. City Council, 146 Cal. App. 3d 947, 955 (1983).