Riverside utilities dispatcher triples salary to nearly $400,000 with state’s 10th largest overtime payout

Riverside utilities electric power system dispatcher Donald Dahle was the city’s top earner last year, thanks to a $257,719 overtime (OT) payout — the 10th largest of the 1 million public workers surveyed statewide — that boosted his total earnings to $373,235.

An analysis of the newly released 2016 pay data from TransparentCalifornia.com reveals a sharp increase in Riverside’s OT expenditures, both on an individual and agency-wide basis.

In 2016, the city spent $20 million on overtime pay alone, a 33% increase from just three years prior. During that same period, the number of Riverside employees who earned at least $50,000 in OT nearly tripled, rising from 25 to 65.

Of those, 10 Riverside employees earned six-figure OT payouts last year —up significantly from 2014, when a single $100,650 OT payout marked the first time an employee crossed that threshold.

To view Riverside’s complete 2016 payroll report, please click here.

Inland Empire workers cashing in on unused leave, severance pay

In addition to regular salary and overtime pay, most California city workers are eligible for a host of supplemental pays that are frequently reported simply as “other pay.” This is where cash payments from selling back unused vacation and sick leave — a practice rarely found in the private sector — is reported.

Of the more than 200,000 city workers surveyed statewide, Inland Empire workers comprised 5 of the top 15 largest “other pay” spots.

  1. A staggering $330,000 unused leave payout for former Rialto police chief William Farrar was the 3rd largest of its kind among the California city workers surveyed last year.
  2. Former Palm Desert city manager John Wohlmuth’s $299,686 cash out was the 4th largest statewide — two-thirds of which came from severance pay, with the rest coming from unused leave.
  3. Former Fontana police chief Rodney Jones received $249,720 in unused leave and severance pay, which ranked 8th largest statewide.
  4. Former San Bernardino city manager Allen Park’s $227,177 severance payout was the 12th largest “other pay” amount statewide.
  5. Former Apple Valley assistant town manager received a $212,513 payout, the 15th largest statewide.

Transparent California research director Robert Fellner blames California’s collective bargaining laws for the growing gap between the benefits available to government workers and those available to taxpayers.

“As long as California gives coercive, monopolistic powers to government unions, taxpayers will continue to be forced to pay for lavish benefits that dwarf what they themselves can expect to receive.”

Legalized pension spiking, exorbitant benefits drive San Bernardino County’s soaring pension costs

TransparentCalifornia.com also released new 2016 payroll data for San Bernardino County in conjunction with the previously-unseen 2016 pension payout report from the County retirement system (SBCERA).

The data revealed a significant increase in the cost of benefits as a percentage of total wages, which grew from 35.5% in 2011 to more than 44% last year.

Fellner believes the explanation for such a dramatic rise can be found by analyzing what those costs are paying for.

For the third year in a row, SBCERA’s $89,058 average full-career pension was the highest of any comparable fund statewide.

Fellner points to the unusually rich nature of SBCERA benefits, which exceed even those offered by other California public pension plans:

Pension as % of final salary after 32 years at age 65

Fund

Pension

San Francisco

75%

Alameda County

78%

Contra Costa County

84%

Sacramento

84%

Riverside (CalPERS)

96%

San Bernardino

100%

While most retirement experts recommend a retirement income around 70% of final earnings, all of California’s public retirement systems offer much larger benefits, even after only a 32 year career.

County workers enjoy another benefit on top of an exceptionally generous benefit formula: the ability to include unused leave cash outs as part of their pensionable earnings, a practice Fellner calls “legalized pension spiking.”

Despite mild reforms for those hired after January 1, 2013, the cost of these benefits will drain resources from San Bernardino County for decades to come, according to Fellner.

“These exorbitant benefits are the reason why San Bernardino’s pensions cost consumed more than 16 percent of the County’s own-revenue last year — a rate that was more than triple the national average, according to a recent Stanford study.

“The extreme richness of San Bernardino’s pension program is particularly indefensible given the relatively modest income of most county residents.”

The 3 largest San Bernardino pension payouts last year went to:

  1. Former county counsel Ruth Stringer: $334,296.
  2. Former county undersheriff Richard Beemer: $307,547
  3. Former director of county safety Rodney Hoops: $292,217.

To view the complete datasets in a searchable and downloadable format, please visit www.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.

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.

Water district GM’s $450,000 compensation tops Inland Empire’s special district list

Today, Transparent California released 2014 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for 43 of Inland Empire’s largest special districts, representing over 80 percent of all Inland Empire special district workers.

The average full-time, year-round Chino Valley Fire Independent District worker received $200,764 in compensation — the highest of any Inland Empire special district surveyed.

The next three Inland Empire special districts with the highest average compensation packages — for special districts with at least 50 full-time, year-round employees — were:

  1. Western Municipal Water District: $138,297
  2. Rancho California Water District: $132,649
  3. Desert Water Agency: $129,724

Click here to view this information for all 43 Inland Empire special districts surveyed.

The three highest-compensated Inland Empire special district workers were:

  1. Rubidoux Community Services general manager David Lopez: $456,695
  2. Desert Water Agency general manager David Luker: $432,699
  3. Eastern Municipal Water District general manager Paul Jones: $430,175

Chino Valley Fire tops OT list

Employees of the Chino Valley Independent Fire District received more overtime (OT) than any other Inland Empire special district worker. The top OT earners were:

  1. Fire engineer Franklin Sexton more than doubled his $103,361 salary with an additional OT payout of: $110,467
  2. Fire captain Keith Stroup collected an OT payout of: $81,956
  3. Fire captain Donald Ross collected an OT payout of: $76,215

Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner noted that transparency in the typically-overlooked special districts is vital.

“The recent flood of rate hikes by California water districts demonstrates why it is so important that taxpayers have complete information as to how their money is being spent.”

Statewide

The average special district spent $122,456 in total compensation per full-time, year-round employee. The average compensation at special districts in various geographical regions was:

  1. Bay Area: $155,488
  2. Inland Empire: $105,356
  3. Marin County: $150,758
  4. Los Angeles County: $117,617
  5. Orange County: $120,332
  6. Sacramento Valley: $110,301
  7. San Diego: $120,111
  8. Statewide: $122,456

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

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

Over half of Inland Empire city workers collected at least $100,000 in total compensation

Today, Transparent California released previously-unseen 2014 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for 395 cities and 44 counties statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

A survey of 44 Inland Empire cities, accounting for 93 percent of the Inland Empire population, reveals that the average full-time city worker received $123,663 in total compensation last year. Over a third received at least $100,000 in pay alone.

The three highest compensated city workers in the Inland Empire were:

  1. Retired Rancho Cucamonga fire Chief Michael Bell cashed in unused leave to boost his total compensation to $446,867.
  2. Corona fire captain Roger Williams collected more than double his salary in OT to receive a total of $438,448.
  3. Fontana City manager Kenneth Hunt earned $423,567.

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

  1. Corona: $153,683
  2. Murrieta: $153,646
  3. Palm Desert: $143,486
  4. Rialto: $138,711
  5. Cathedral City: $138,263

The average 2014 compensation package for full-time employees of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties was $86,942 and $96,186, respectively.

To view a table listing the average wages of all Inland Empire cities, click here.

Taxpayers have been kept in the dark about the full cost of public employees, according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“Government workers receive tens of thousands of dollars worth of benefits that have no comparison in the private sector. This bloat enriches special interests at the expense of both cities and taxpayers.

“Simply publicizing base salaries is inadequate given that city workers enjoy leave policies and benefit packages that dwarf what most taxpayers receive. Reporting full compensation reveals a shocking inequity between city employees and the taxpayers who must bear the cost.”

Overtime and other pay boosts earnings

The combined overtime and other pay at all Inland Empire cities surveyed was worth 24 percent of regular pay, as compared to the statewide average of 19 percent.

Rialto’s combined overtime and other pay amounted to 49 percent of salary — the highest of any city statewide. Corona and Ontario were in the top 10 statewide, with overtime and other pay spending at 39 and 38 percent of salary, respectively.

In Corona, the average full-time firefighter received $61,191 in overtime pay, representing a 73 percent increase to their regular salary. Captain Williams more than tripled his $106,000 salary by collecting nearly $233,000 in overtime. 20 percent of Corona firefighters received overtime pay worth more than their regular salary.

Statewide

Average full-time municipal employee compensation for other regions in California was:

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

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

For more information or 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 the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

The Press-Enterprise: Tax increase and service cuts loom

A great editorial in today’s edition of The Press-Enterprise:

One long-term solution to this problem is simply to have fewer public employees who would receive a pension through CalPERS, and utilize public-private partnerships to deliver services. Given how lucrative pension benefits have been for many public employees, unions have been sure to stifle discussions of this sort.

According to Transparent California, full-career, non-safety public retirees in the Inland Empire receive average pensions of $73,712, while safety public retirees averaged $98,888. Reasonably, anyone who stands to receive such benefits would want such a status quo to continue, thus they remain the most active in local and state government.

But taxpayers simply cannot afford it without making even more sacrifices. Until Inland residents pressure their governments to look to alternatives, the trend of rising costs, fewer services and more taxes will persist.

Read the rest here.