$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.


Oakland police officer’s $490,000 pay package tops city list for 3rd year in a row​

Oakland police officer Malcolm Miller more than quadrupled his $107,627 salary to $489,662 with overtime, benefits and other specialty pays last year — making him Oakland’s highest paid employee for the third year in a row, according to just-released pay data.

Today, Transparent California released previously-unseen 2015 public employee compensation data for the city of Oakland on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database. The site now contains 2015 salary data for 391 cities and 44 counties statewide.

Miller’s enduring status as Oakland’s top-paid city worker is mostly due to collecting massive amounts of overtime (OT) pay, as well as cashing in large sums of unused leave. Last year’s $192,108 OT payout suggests a nearly 90 hour average work-week, according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

Using historical data from TransparentCalifornia.com, Fellner discovered that Miller, along with colleagues Eric Karsseboom and Huy Nguyen, have received OT payments suggesting average work-weeks of 80, 76 and 88 hours, respectively, over the past five years, as shown in the chart below:

Average hours worked per week for 3 Oakland police officers based on OT, 2011-2015

Fellner warned that, “The public should be concerned that working such an extraordinary amount of hours for years on end is a recipe for disaster, particularly given the life-or-death situations police officers routinely encounter.”

Surprisingly, Oakland’s top OT-earner was a non-safety worker: Oakland civil engineer Kenny Lau’s $257,097’s OT payout was the fourth-highest statewide, behind only 3 Los Angeles firefighters. Statewide, Lau was the only non-safety worker among the top 50 employees who received the largest OT payouts last year.

Milpitas fire inspector tops statewide list

A survey of 95 Bay Area cities — excluding the city/county of San Francisco — reveals that the average full-time, year-round city worker received $157,498 in total compensation last year.

The Bay Area’s highest-compensated city worker was Milpitas fire prevention inspector Don Yamashita, whose $541,557 compensation package was the richest of the more than 250,000 city workers surveyed statewide. After Yamashita, Malcolm Miller was the 2nd highest-compensated Bay Area city worker.

The next three highest-compensated Bay Area city workers were:

  1. Vallejo city manager Daniel Keen, whose $472,686 compensation package was the 2nd highest of any city manager statewide.
  2. San Jose police chief Larry Esquivel Jr., whose $470,288 compensation package was the 2nd highest of any police chief statewide.
  3. San Jose city manager Norberto Duenas, whose $457,387 was the 3rd highest of any city manager statewide.

The average full-time, year-round Milpitas employee received $187,597 in total compensation last year — second only to the City of Industry out of the 391 cities surveyed statewide.

After Milpitas, the next five cities with the highest average compensation packages for full-time, year-round employees were all from the Bay Area:

  1. Redwood City: $186,118
  2. Corte Madera: $183,750
  3. Atherton: $181,170
  4. San Jose: $180,723
  5. Santa Clara: $179,333

Total employee compensation for all 95 Bay Area cities surveyed increased 9.5% as compared to the previous year. The three Bay Area cities with a population of at least 10,000 that experienced the largest increases were San Ramon (25%), Newark (19%), and Vallejo (14%).

Fellner points to recent reports of residents fleeing the Bay Area as an example of the burden excessive public pay can have on taxpayers.

“Elected officials impose a tremendous burden on taxpayers when they cave to the demands of public unions for ever-higher levels of government pay. Now, many residents — who on average make much less than their government counterparts — are being forced from their homes due to the sky-high levels of taxes required to fund such exorbitant pay packages.”

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.