Chiang puts salary, pension information online

October 26, 2010 12:24:54 PM PDT
The salaries of top city officials all over California are getting new attention and scrutiny is probably a better word. It's happening after the pay scandal in a small Southern California town made national news.

The outrage over the $800,000 the city of Bell paid City Manager Robert Rizzo sparked new scrutiny over how much local governments are paying their employees.

The State Controller now has a database containing most compensation packages paid to city and county workers. Watchdog PublicCEO.com praises the move.

"I think you have seen in Bell the worst a city manager can do. And now we're going to start to see the best of what local governments can do when they start taking steps to control spending," PublicCEO.com editor Dan Oney said.

No other city comes close to Bell, but there are still some eye-popping figures when you combine salary, benefits, pension contributions and other pay.

Beverly Hills, a city of 36,000, paid its now-retired manager $439,000 last year, which included years of sick and vacation leave that were cashed in, San Ramon, a city of 63,000, doled out $360,000 and Santa Monica, which has 92,000 residents, compensated its leader $315,000. By comparison, Los Angeles, a city of more than four million, paid its manager $262,000.

While Gov. Schwarzenegger doesn't accept his state pay, a California governor makes $174,000. The pay of the smaller cities caused most people to shake their heads in disbelief.

"I think a lot of our public officials are rather overpaid for the job that they do," Joanne Evans said.

"Why is this happening, How can you have these extraordinary salaries, exorbitant salaries when our salary is nowhere close to that?" Mike Peretti asked.

The city of Santa Monica points out the City Manager is the CEO -- it's a complex, full service, highly responsive city with a population that doubles during the day. PublicCEO.com warns face value doesn't tell everything.

"Salaries without any context are kind of deceiving. How many employees do they oversee? What's their budget?" Oney said.

Transit and waste disposal agencies are next and will have to start reporting pay to the state by mid-December. The state controller can impose a $5,000 fine for non-compliance.


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