Hawthorne residents are paying the nation’s highest sales tax in order to sustain bloated pay packages for city workers, like the $717,258 that went to former Police Chief Robert Fager last year.
With a per capita income of only $22,405, Hawthorne residents are hit particularly hard by the city’s 10.25 percent sales tax, which ranks among the highest nationwide.
Fager’s $717,258 pay package included a $328,279 payout for cashing in unused leave upon retirement last year. The cost to Hawthorne residents, however, may continue well into the future, given Fager’s contract included a provision that requires the city to pay the full cost of health insurance for him and a spouse, for life.
This was in addition to the fully paid retirement and health benefits he received while working, on top of several other lucrative benefits like a city-paid car, including gas and maintenance, and the ability to accumulate and cash out a tremendous amount of unused sick leave at an inflated rate.
In Lancaster, former City Manager Mark Bozigian took advantage of a similarly generous provision when he cashed in $330,496 worth of unused leave upon retirement last year, which boosted his total compensation package to $756,072.
Lancaster residents, however, fared much worse, with a per capita income of only $19,906 and a poverty rate of 23.3 percent, which ranked among the highest statewide and was nearly twice the national average, according to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau.
Finally, former police chief and current Gardena City Manager Edward Medrano took in $620,546 last year, which brought the total for these three employees of city governments in Los Angeles County to just under $2.1 million in pay and benefits.
The trio reinforces a common, if not surprising, theme: Many of California’s highest paid public workers come from some of the state’s poorest areas, according to Transparent California Executive Director Robert Fellner.
“The richest public pay packages are often found in some of California’s poorest communities,” Fellner said. “Given that residents are responsible for bearing the entirety of this cost, elected officials should be particularly mindful of the burden excessive pay imposes on residents who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
Fellner believes the lack of oversight in these smaller cities explains the comparatively outsized pay packages awarded to executives.
“It’s easier to give the farm away when you are spending other people’s money and few, if any, are watching,” Fellner added. “Sadly, this seems to be exploited in areas where residents have far more pressing responsibilities, like putting food on the table, and are thus unable to spend time pouring over the minute details of labor contracts.”
To explore the newly released 2018 pay data for California’s cities and counties in a searchable and downloadable format, please click here. To see a list of the top earners statewide, please click here.
For more information, 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. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.