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New Laws Regarding Charter City Elections, Public Agency Management Contracts and Obligations and Posting of Public Agency Meeting Notices

AB 1344, which became effective on January 1, 2012, changes the law regarding employment and compensation for public agency managers.  It also requires public agencies to post meeting agendas on their websites and imposes new restrictions on changes to city charters.    Here is a summary of significant changes:

1.  Charter City Election Restrictions

  • Requires an election on a city charter or charter amendment to be submitted at the next established statewide general, primary election or next regularly scheduled municipal election.  No special elections, or mail ballots.
  • Extends number of days prior to an election from 88 to 95.
  • Requires newspaper publication of charter language and 2 public hearings.
  • Requires ballot description that enumerates new charter powers.
  • Requires disclosure of language that allows council to raise their own salaries w/o vote.

2.  Public Agency Manager Contracts

  • Prohibits automatic increases in local agency executive contracts above cost-of-living.
  • Prohibits severance pay or cash settlements in excess of 18 mos (Gov. Code section 53260).
  • “Local agency executive” means any person employed by local agency who is not subject to Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (collective bargaining).  Includes Manager, Attorney and unrepresented Senior Management.

3.  New remedies relating to Abuse of Office

  • If official placed on paid admin leave is later convicted of crime related to abuse of office, he/she must pay back salary paid while on leave.
  • If public funds are used for legal defense of official, and official is convicted of crime related to abuse of office, he/she must pay back defense costs.
  • Severance / cash settlements must be returned if official convicted of crime related to abuse of office.

4.  The Brown Act (Open Meeting Law) is amended as follows

  • Meeting notices shall be posted on the agency’s website (if it has one).
  • Prohibits a legislative body from calling special meetings regarding local agency executive (Department Heads and City Managers) salary, salary schedule or benefits; local agency executive salary and benefits may only be discussed at regular meetings.