Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said yesterday that he will urge the Senate to adopt reforms in the District of Columbia's CETA jobs program, including a $15,000 lid on salaries paid CETA workers.

If adopted, the salary recommendation would affect at least nine of the 60 CETA workers assigned to the D.C. City Council staff. An uncertain number of the others would face wage cuts or termination from a two-year limit proposed by Leahy on the use of District funds to supplement the pay of any CETA employe.

Leahy, chairman of the Senate D.C. Appropriations subcommittee, outlined his plan in a letter sent to Council Chairman Sterling Tucker. Tucker said he will suggest some alternatives to Leahy's proposals.

A Labor Department report released July 17 found widespread favoritism and abuse in the council's participation in the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act.

CETA provides $600,000 a year to pay part or all the salaries of 60 council workers hired from among the unemployed. The city spends an additional $91,000 to bring those salaries to higher levels.

The Labor Department report said the program was designed to provide average wages of between $7,800 and $10,000 a year. It was critical that the City Council had paid 78 percent of the employe more than $10,000. Nine currently earn more than $15,000, including one salary of $21,883.

Tucker, defending the CETA program while promising improvements, has warned that removal of CETA workers from the staff would cripple the work of the council - a point he reiterated yesterday after receiving Leahy's letter.

Leahy said one of his proposed reforms, limiting the size of CETA-supported staffs on the council and other city agencies, "is intended to prevent the CETA program from being used primarily to . . . meet the requirements of basic city programs."

CETA should be limited to providing temporary jobs and training for the unemployed, he said.

"To the extent that the City Council needs additional [personnel] to carry out its mission, I would be pleased to assist" through adding people to the regular city payroll, Leahy said.

Tucker said he was pleased by this offer.