Two-thirds of Orange County city workers collected over $100,000 in total compensation

Today, Transparent California released previously-unseen 2014 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for 395 cities and 44 counties statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

A survey of 28 cities in Orange County, accounting for 84 percent of the region’s population, revealed that the average full-time city worker received $135,464 in total compensation last year, with 66 percent receiving $100,000 or more. The average total earnings was $98,958, with 43 percent paid at least $100,000.

The three Orange County cities with the highest average compensation package for full-time, year round employees were:

  1. Costa Mesa: $155,921
  2. Newport Beach: $152,331
  3. Anaheim: $149,494

2014 data for Huntington Beach and Orange City was not available at press time, but should be available in the near future.

To view a table listing the average wages and total employee cost per resident for all cities in Orange County, click here.

The three highest compensated City or County employees in Orange County were:

  1. Santa Ana City manager David Cavazos: $434,106.
  2. San Clemente City manager Pall Gudgeirsson: $427,689.
  3. Orange County executive officer Michael Giancola: $411,032.

Taxpayers have been kept in the dark about the full cost of public employees, according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“Government workers receive tens of thousands of dollars worth of benefits that have no comparison in the private sector. This bloat enriches special interests at the expense of both cities and taxpayers.

“Simply publicizing base salaries is inadequate given that city workers enjoy leave policies and benefit packages that dwarf what most taxpayers receive. Reporting full compensation reveals a shocking inequity between city employees and the taxpayers who must bear the cost.”

Overtime and other pay boosts earnings

The combined overtime and other pay at all Orange County cities surveyed was worth 20.5 percent of regular pay, as compared to the statewide average of 19 percent.

Westminster, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach’s total overtime and other pay was the highest of any Orange County city at 32, 30 and 27 percent of regular pay, respectively.

Cost per resident

The cities of Newport Beach and Brea spent more on employee compensation per resident than any other Orange County city at $1,285 and $986, respectively.

Newport Beach’s cost was the 18th highest of any city with a population of at least 10,000 statewide — and nearly triple the county average of $472.

Santa Ana city workers’ pay triple that of residents

Just-released income data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals shocking levels of income inequality between Orange County taxpayers and city workers. The median earnings of full-time, year round Santa Ana city workers was $90,313, more than triple the $28,626 median earnings of city residents.

This information for all Orange County cities is here.


Average full-time municipal employee compensation for other regions in California was:



Compensation is defined as total wages plus the employer cost of retirement and health benefits. Full-time employees are defined as those receiving a salary equal or greater to the “annual salary minimum” reported.

To view the entire dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, visit TransparentCalifornia.com.

To schedule an interview with Transparent California, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

Categories: 2015, Press Releases