Interim Long Beach city manager receives pay raise months after job cuts

The interim Long Beach city manager was brought in to save the city by the sea's financial struggles. Now, she is getting a pay raise to stay on the job.
Donna Gayden, a veteran municipal executive who was recruited from Illinois in February, initially signed a six-month, $178,000 contract. Her new deal pays $190,000 under a one-year contract that was approved by City Council.
"I think that's a lot of money considering we're going through economic problems with the pandemic and everything else, and people being out of work," says Long Beach resident J.C. Benamou.
Gayden's pay hike comes after the city slashed more than 150 jobs in April. It also raised taxes in each of the last two years and has been forced to borrow in order to pay for operating expenses.
A public hearing was held Tuesday by the City Council about bonding $2.7 million in separation pay for retiring and departing employees. 164 full- and part-time workers were laid off in April as a way to close a $6.6 million budget deficit.
"What we're doing with this bond $2.7 million, these were obligations ... that were made before we arrived. Since we've been trying to vet as much as possible without a good time keep system, we can only go by so much," says Gayden.
A vote on bonding the $2.7 million is scheduled for Sept. 15.
Taxpayers, including Roy Lester, say more borrowing will dig the hole of debt deeper.
"The truth of the matter is we're really spending too much of our money paying off our debts and the city's never going to get out of a hole that way," says Lester.
News 12 requested an interview with Gayden but was told she was unavailable.