Santa Ana City Manager’s $453,000 pay package tops OC salary 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.

A survey of 32 Orange County cities, accounting for 98 percent of the region’s population, revealed that the average full-time city worker received $144,817 in total compensation last year.

Santa Ana city manager David Cavazos’ $453,092 compensation package was the highest of any city worker in Orange County and the 5th highest of any city manager statewide, according to the data.

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

  1. Costa Mesa: $165,388
  2. Newport Beach: $165,025
  3. Huntington Beach: $162,713

The three highest compensated city employees in Orange County were:

  1. Santa Ana city manager David Cavazos: $453,092.
  2. Newport Beach police chief Jay Johnson: $443,026.
  3. Newport Beach fire chief Scott Poster: $408,662.

Total compensation can more than triple 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 triple their base salary.”

As an example, Fellner pointed to three police officers at the cities of Huntington Beach,Newport Beach and Santa Ana, all of whom collected compensation packages worth more than triple their salaries, as shown in the chart below:

Breakdown of compensation received by 3 police officers in Orange County cities, 2015

Top overtime (OT) earners

The top 5 OT payouts to city workers in Orange County went to:

  1. Anaheim firefighter Daniel Lambert, whose $156,693 OT payout was 53% more than his $102,065 salary.
  2. Anaheim fire engineer III Brian Pollema, whose $156,191 OT payout was 38% more than his $113,218 salary.
  3. Huntington Beach fire captain Gary Finney, whose $154,491 OT payout was 30% more than his $118,477 salary.
  4. Huntington Beach police officer Tai Huynh, whose $147,744 OT payout was 58% more than his $93,267 salary.
  5. Anaheim senior electrical utility inspector Kenneth Heffernan, whose $150,790 OT payout was 58% more than his $89,092 salary.

Fellner noted that all of the top OT earners in Orange County had received outsized OT payments for at least the past three years, as shown in the chart below:

Fellner considers such a large and continuous concentration of overtime pay within a select few employees as dangerous, particularly for police and fire workers.

“These overtime payments indicate an average work week of nearly 80 hours, for years on end. This is a recipe for disaster given the life-or-death situations police and fire officers routinely encounter.”

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.

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