Ontario fire engineer quadruples $90,000 salary to nearly $400,000 with OT, benefits​

Ontario fire engineer Mark Zinda collected $395,989 in pay and benefits last year — more than quadruple his $90,167 salary, according to just released salary data.

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.

A survey of 45 Inland Empire cities — representing 95 percent of the Inland Empire population — reveals that the average full-time city worker received $127,730 in total compensation last year.

The five highest-compensated city workers in the Inland Empire were:

  1. Fontana city manager Kenneth Hunt: $453,620.
  2. Riverside assistant police chief Christopher Vicino: $433,316.
  3. Palm Springs city manager David Ready: $421,222.
  4. Ontario city manager Al Boling: $419,640.
  5. Fired Hemet city manager Walter Hill’s $280,514 lump sum payout boosted his total compensation to: $414,163.

The top five Inland Empire cities with the highest average compensation package for full-time employees were:

  1. Corona: $164,714
  2. Indian Wells: $155,527
  3. Rialto: $149,953
  4. Cathedral City: $148,745
  5. Palm Desert: $146,801

Rialto’s 19 percent increase in employee compensation from the previous year was the highest of any city statewide with at least $10 million in total employee compensation and over five times the 3.8 percent statewide average. Ontario’s 12 percent increase was 12th highest statewide and 2nd highest amongst the 45 Inland Empire cities surveyed.

Total compensation can more than quadruple base salary

In the public sector, salary often represents only a fraction of an employee’s total compensation package, according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“While taxpayers may assume salary represents nearly all of an employee’s compensation package, some public employees collect compensation packages worth more than quadruple their base salary.”

Statewide, the average city’s total employee compensation was 55 percent greater than total salary paid. The cities of Rialto, Corona, Hemet and Ontario’s total compensation was 98, 97, 92 and 91 percent more than total salary paid — which ranked second, fourth, seventh and eighth-highest out of the 379 cities surveyed statewide.

Ontario firefighter Ronald Spellman joined Zinda in receiving total compensation ($334,788) that was more than quadruple his salary ($73,713) — a feat accomplished by only ten other city employees out of the more than 132,000 surveyed statewide.

The chart below shows the breakdown of compensation received by these two Ontario employees, as well as San Bernardino County Fire captain Jonathan Schaefer.

Breakdown of compensation received by 3 Inland Empire government workers, 2015

County workers

The average 2015 compensation package for full-time employees of Riverside and San Bernardino County was $87,791 and $93,408, respectively.

The 3 highest-compensated county workers were:

  1. Riverside County medical director Jerry Dennis: $809,415
  2. Riverside County assistant sheriff Lee Wagner: $691,489
  3. San Bernardino County chief executive officer: Gregory Devereaux: $549,803

Dennis and Wagner’s 2015 compensation was roughly double what they received the previous year, mostly due to lump-sum payments of $418,440 and $377,326, respectively. Devereaux’s 2015 compensation represented a roughly $60,000 increase from the previous year.

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.