In June, the Orange County Register reported that Huntington Beach City Administrator Fred Wilson was given a $200,000 forgivable loan “as an incentive to live in the city he manages.”
Since then — amid a countywide transparency drive stemming from the scandal in the city of Bell — the city of Huntington Beach posted a document on its website detailing the compensation figures for all of the city’s top executives.
Guess who else got a forgivable loan?
The city’s chief of police, Ken Small.
Small said in 2004 that the city offered him a $100,000 forgivable loan to move in to the city. Before the city hired him, Small said, he was living in Daytona Beach, Fla., where he sold his custom-built home for $280,000.
Small headed west to Surf City and bought a “1976 track home fixer-upper for $680,000” he said, and he needed the $100,000 to make the fixes.
“One of the things a police chief should do is live in the city,” Small said.
The city forgives $15,000 of the $100,000 every year that Small works, he said. And since Small was hired six years ago, the loan is all but wiped out.
That’s not all that Small gets: He also collects the most expensive benefits package of any city executive, valued at $83,262, according to the city’s report. That’s on top of his $204,880 base salary, and it’s almost double the $45,416 in benefits Wilson gets.
Small said he gets “just a typical benefits package.” When asked why his benefits were more generous than other city executives, Small said it’s because the public safety pension is “a lot more costly” than other pensions.
The benefits package for the other top public safety executive, Fire Chief Patrick McIntosh, is $75,781 annually, the second most expensive benefits package for a city executive.
The revelation comes at an interesting time, both because of the Bell scandal and also because a Huntington Beach City Council budget study session Monday revealed plans to cut 20 positions from the Police Department, 10 of which are for sworn police officers.
Councilman Joe Carchio, who wasn’t a councilman when Small was hired, said the kinds of deals that Wilson and Small got are OK, as long as they are top performers.
“It just depends on how much you really want that person,” Carchio said. “They made a great choice, because Ken’s a great chief.”
— ADAM ELMAHREK