Under the council's agreement with Bryan Montgomery, manager of the community of 35,000 people, the city forgave a home loan it had issued him and received in exchange a far-less-valuable partial ownership of his property.
It was the third time Montgomery received mortgage assistance from the city. When he took the job in 2005, the city issued the loan at an exceptionally favorable interest rate. Then, for the past 21/2 years, the City Council had allowed Montgomery to defer monthly payments without accruing additional interest.
The City Council agreed to the latest deal without consulting an outside adviser and after negotiating directly with Montgomery in closed session. That private gathering violated the state open-meeting law because a council majority cannot legally negotiate compensation in private with an employee.
Perhaps the most galling part of this new deal is that the city council is guaranteeing Montgomery at least $170,000 from the sale of the house at the same time that they're wiping away the $508,000 he owes the city in mortgage debt (on a home currently valued at $311,500). And it's not like he's struggling financially either. The Times piece notes that Montgomery "earns about $200,000 a year in salary, deferred compensation and vehicle allowance. On top of that, the city is paying about $34,000 a year toward his pension plan."
Yet another town where the city manager and the city council don't seem to think twice about colluding for their own interest and leaving taxpayers with the bill. California is getting entirely too predictable.