$299,000 overtime payout boosted Oakland city engineer’s total compensation to nearly $500,000

Oakland civil engineer Kenny Lau’s $484,175 pay and benefits package was the largest of any Oakland worker last year, according to just released 2016 pay data from TransparentCalifornia.com.

Lau was able to collect total compensation so far in excess of his $108,841 regular salary thanks to receiving $299,000 in overtime pay — the fourth largest OT payout of the more than 550,000 government workers surveyed statewide.

Such an outsized OT payout suggests a total of 5,890 hours worked for the year, which averages out to over 16 hours a day for all 365 days of the year, according to Transparent California research director Robert Fellner.

Transparent California requested a copy of Lau’s time cards or other records indicating total hours worked for the 2016 year more than two weeks ago, but has yet to receive a response from the city.

Remarkably, this is the 2nd year in a row Lau received the state’s 4th largest OT payout, having received $257,097 in 2015.

Soaring OT pay has increased Lau’s total compensation significantly over the past four years, which has risen from roughly $300,000 in 2013 to nearly $500,000 last year.

“The extent and duration of such an enormous level of overtime pay for a single worker raises a host of questions regarding efficiency, safety and legitimacy,” Fellner said.

“It is simply inconceivable for an employee to have worked as many hours as this amount of overtime indicates. The City should immediately conduct an audit into their procedures and policies governing overtime pay.”

After Lau, the next four highest compensated Oakland city workers were:

  1. Police officer Malcolm Miller: $463,215.
  2. Fire department engineer Preetpal Dhaliwal, whose $263,174 OT payout was the sixth highest of any city worker surveyed and boosted his total compensation to $456,216.
  3. City administrator Sabrina Birnbaum: $421,713.
  4. Battalion chief Demond Summons: $414,730.

City workers’ earnings more than double that of residents

Total city-wide compensation increased nearly 5 percent year over year to $550 million, with the median full-time, full-year Oakland city worker having earned $96,406 in total wages and $145,355 in total compensation last year. By comparison, the median Oakland private-sector worker earned $44,875 in 2015 — according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Compensation is defined as total wages plus the employer cost of retirement and health benefits.

To explore the full dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, please 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 of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

 

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