Combined $1 million pay package for Escondido’s city attorney and manager tops state list

Today, Transparent California released previously-unseen 2015 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for 379 cities and 42 counties statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

Escondido city attorney Jeffrey Epp’s $521,204 and city manager Clayton Phillips’ $518,749 total compensation packages made them the state’s highest-compensated city attorney and manager, respectively, and the 2nd and 3rd highest-compensated city workers of the more than 245,000 employees surveyed.

Epp and Phillips benefit from the ability to cash in extraordinary amounts of unused leave, thanks to a contract that provides 10 paid holidays, 20 management leave days, and about a month of vacation each year, according to a recent San Diego Union-Tribune report.

A survey of 16 San Diego County cities, excluding the City of San Diego, revealed that the average full-time city worker received $122,614 in total compensation last year.

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

  1. San Marcos: $134,555
  2. Santee: $133,009
  3. Carlsbad: $129,402

San Diego City

The average full-time San Diego City worker received $86,335 in wages and benefits, excluding the cost of pension benefits. San Diego did not provide the cost of retirement benefits on an employee level; however the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System reported an average contribution rate of 62 percent for the 2015 fiscal year, suggesting an average cost of nearly $42,330 per member.

25 San Diego city workers collected over $100,000 in overtime payouts, with overtime spending increasing nearly 6.5 percent city-wide.

The largest overtime payout to a non-safety city worker went to lifeguard Ric Stell, who received $90,230 in overtime on top of a $63,093 salary.

San Diego should follow the lead of virtually every other California city and county by reporting pension costs on an individual, employee basis, according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“There is no excuse for providing incomplete, and consequently misleading, data on government pay packages. San Diego should join the rest of the state and report full compensation values to the public, particularly given that taxpayers must bear this extraordinary cost.”

San Diego County

The County’s top earner — chief administrative officer Helen Robbins-Meyer — received a more than $25,000 salary bump last year to boost her total compensation to $448,008.

Spending on employee compensation at San Diego County increased 6 percent since the previous year, with a nearly 10.5 percent increase in overtime pay. The average full-time, year-round County worker collected $104,021 in total compensation.

Compensation is defined as total wages plus the employer cost of retirement and health benefits. Full-time, year-round employees are defined as those receiving a salary equal or greater to 90 percent of the “annual salary minimum” reported.

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