CalPERS $100k club up 11% in Orange County as Newport Beach experiences state’s largest rate hike

Today, TransparentCalifornia.com released previously-unseen 2015 pension payout data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).

The over 625,000 records — obtained via a public records request — reveal that 1,495 Orange County retirees collected an annualized benefit worth at least $100,000, an 11% increase from last year’s report.

The Orange County cities with at least 20 full-career retirees that had the highest average full-career pensions for safety officers were:

  1. Costa Mesa: $122,870, which was the 12th highest statewide
  2. Irvine: $119,281, which was the 17th highest statewide
  3. Newport Beach: $116,326, which was the 23rd highest statewide

Soaring retirement costs

At 60.3 percent of pay, Newport Beach’s retirement costs for safety officers was the 2nd highest statewide — representing a 29 percent year over year increase, the largest statewide. The cost for Newport Beach’s non-safety employees increased 31 percent, also a statewide-high.

Costa Mesa followed closely behind with a 59.7 percent rate for fire officers and 55.6 percent for police officers, the 4th and 6th highest rates. Santa Ana’s 54.4 percent rate for safety officers was the 7th highest of any California city enrolled in CalPERS.

The top 3 payouts to Orange County CalPERS retirees went to:

  1. David N Ream, former Santa Ana city manager: $263,202
  2. James Ruth, former Anaheim city manager: $249,851
  3. Timothy Riley, former Newport Beach fire chief: $244,904

Ream’s benefit was the 17th largest regular benefit of any CalPERS member, excluding those with one-time only settlement amounts. When compared only to other retirees from California cities, Ream, Ruths and Riley’s payouts were 8th, 12th and 15th highest statewide.

Orange County Employees’ Retirement System (OCERS)

TransparentCalifornia.com also recently posted 2015 OCERS payout data.

The top 3 OCERS payouts went to:

  1. Gary Streed, Sanitation District: $263,545
  2. Lynn Hartline, Department of Education: $260,427
  3. Michael Schumacher, Orange County: $259,204

As taxpayer costs continue to climb it is more important than ever that the public has complete, accurate information as to how their money is being spent, according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“Defined benefit plans like CalPERS are inherently opaque, which limits the public’s ability to accurately assess its generosity and cost. Transparent California provides complete information so that taxpayers can have a better sense of how their money is being spent.”

A full-career is defined as at least 30 years of service.

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.

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.

Average Orange County Fire Authority employee received $213,000 in total compensation

Today, Transparent California released 2014 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for 20 of Orange County’s largest special districts, representing over 95 percent of all Orange County special district workers.

The average full-time, year-round Orange County special district worker received $143,582 in total compensation.

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

  1. Orange County Fire Authority: $213,261
  2. Orange County Sanitation District: $159,050
  3. Mesa Water District: $142,758

Click here to view this information for all 20 Orange County special districts surveyed.

The three highest-compensated Orange County special district workers were:

  1. Orange County Transportation Authority CEO Darrell Johnson: $447,361
  2. Foothill Transit Zone executive director Doran Barnes: $438,253
  3. Former Orange County Fire Authority division chief Jon Jones: $407,051

Overtime up 25 percent at the Orange County Fire Authority

Overtime expenses at the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) increased 25 percent from $31.2 million in 2013 to $39.2 million in 2014.

OCFA employees had the largest overtime and other pay amounts of any Orange County special district.

The top 3 overtime payouts to Orange County special district workers went to:

  1. OCFA fire captain Gregory Bradshaw: $165,063
  2. OCFA fire apparatus engineer Mark Rodriguez: $125,840
  3. OCFA fire captain Timothy O’Hare: $120,674

The top 3 “other pay” amounts — pay received in addition to regular salary or overtime — for Orange County special district workers went to:

  1. Former OCFA assistant chief Laura Blaul: $203,061
  2. Cashing in unused leave boosted former OCFA division chief Jon Jones’ other pay to: $136,517.
  3. Cashing in unused leave boosted former OCFA division chief Michael Moore’s other pay to: $91,639

Reporting full compensation reveals a growing burden to taxpayers, even absent any overt action to increase government pay, according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“A dangerously underfunded pension fund alongside gold-plated health insurance plans translates to ever-increasing public employee compensation, at taxpayer expense.”

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.

With the addition of Orange County’s special district data, Transparent California now has 2014 compensation data from 489 special districts statewide, with additional special district data to be posted in the coming weeks.

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.

Median Earnings for Residents and City Staff of Orange County Cities, 2014

City Name

Median Earnings for Residents Median Earnings for City Staff City Earnings as % of Resident Earnings

Santa Ana

$28,626 $90,313

315%

Anaheim $40,058 $99,898 249%
Westminster $41,408 $101,702 246%
Garden Grove $38,635 $87,781 227%
Costa Mesa $49,268 $103,029 209%
Stanton $34,891 $69,272 199%
Fountain Valley $53,972 $104,002 193%
Tustin $46,122 $86,141 187%
Buena Park $45,465 $84,797 187%
San Juan Capistrano $46,304 $79,753 172%
La Habra $41,811 $69,891 167%
Laguna Hills $61,417 $98,811 161%
Fullerton $48,591 $77,855 160%
Brea $57,441 $91,551 159%
La Palma $61,014 $92,485 152%
Los Alamitos $60,563 $83,678 138%
Seal Beach $73,682 $97,637 133%
Lake Forest $61,224 $81,052 132%
Cypress $61,137 $80,481 132%
Newport Beach $86,927 $109,366 126%
Dana Point $65,290 $77,546 119%
Aliso Viejo $74,367 $87,790 118%
Laguna Woods $55,806 $62,598 112%
Laguna Niguel $77,616 $86,409 111%
Irvine $77,046 $85,099 110%
Mission Viejo $69,685 $76,201 19%
San Clemente $73,830 $76,421 14%
Rancho Santa Margarita $71,344 $71,770

11%

Los Angeles County cities are  here.

For more, visit www.TransparentCalifornia.com.

 

Full-career Orange County city retirees earn 54% more than residents’ average salary

For Immediate Release
Contact Robert Fellner, 559-462-0122, 201-206-6469 (cell)

Full-career retirees from Orange County municipalities received an average CalPERS pension 54 percent greater than the average salary of area residents, according to just-released 2014 pension payout data fromTransparentCalifornia.com. Full-career police and fire retirees took home pensions worth nearly double the average salary.

The over 600,000 records — obtained through a series of public records requests to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) ­— reveals an average full-career pension of $81,372 for miscellaneous, which includes all non-safety retirees, and $99,366 for safety retirees of all Orange County cities enrolled in CalPERS.

By contrast, the average annual salary in Orange County was $53,010 last year, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

The 3 largest CalPERS payouts to Orange County retirees went to:

  1. David N Ream, former Santa Ana City manager: $277,194,
  2. John J Schatz, former Santa Margarita Water District general manager: $270,613, and
  3. Thomas J Wood, former Anaheim City manager: $248,914.

“Average full-career pensions that significantly exceed the wages of most full-time workers shatters the myth that CalPERS only provides a modest level of retirement income,” said Robert Fellner research director for Transparent California.

Fellner says that such exorbitant benefits are the reason pension contributions are skyrocketing, adding that, “Retirement costs are directly related to the generosity of the benefits promised and, unfortunately, taxpayers are now being required to pay an equally exorbitant sum to help fund them.”

Average full-career CalPERS pensions for Orange County cities

Fellner noted that the median contribution rate for Orange County cities — 25 percent for miscellaneous and 42 percent for safety employees — is significantly higher than the 6.3 percent that private employers pay for their employees’ retirement benefits, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Fellner warned that, “As high as the current rates are, CalPERS is projecting significant rate hikes over the next few years, which threatens to break already cash-strapped municipalities. What’s worse, weakening market conditions means rates will rise even further than anticipated.”

Statewide

The 2014 report contained 19,728 recipients with a monthly allowance of $8,333.34 or more — representing an annualized benefit of at least $100,000 — a nearly 35% increase from 2012’s report.

The average pension for full-career miscellaneous and safety CalPERS retirees was $65,148 and $85,724, respectively.

The top three 2014 CalPERS pension payouts went to:

  1. Michael D Johnson, former Solano County administrator: $375,990,
  2. Joaquin Fuster, UCLA retiree: $325,278, and
  3. Donald Gerth, former Cal State at Sacramento president: $305,002.

The top 10 CalPERS agencies with the highest average pensions reveals retirement income that can more than double the earnings of full-time, working residents:

10 largest average full-career non-safety CalPERS pensions by employer

10 largest average full-career safety CalPERS pensions by employer

A full-career for miscellaneous retirees is defined as at least 35 years of service, the minimum required to qualify for Social Security benefits without penalty, while a full-career for safety employees is defined as 30 years or more.

Despite accounting for only 11 percent of service retirees, it is necessary to look at full-career pensions to accurately gauge the system, according to Fellner.

“Just as one assumes a 40-hour work week when comparing salaries, any discussion of pensions implicitly assumes a full-career.

“Furthermore, the disproportionally greater pensions for those who work a full-career reveal an inequity within CalPERS. Part of the generosity of the full-career benefits comes at the expense of partial-career retirees, who receive disproportionally smaller benefits.”

Fellner concluded,“With retirement costs expanding to as much as ten times what private employers are paying, maintaining the status quo is extremely irresponsible. It’s particularly indefensible to force taxpayers to bear the entire cost for the recklessness of union-backed officials who gambled on sky-high investment returns, lost, and now expect taxpayers to bail them out.”

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.

OC Register: CSU system continues to swell from administrative bloat

The Orange County Register published an editorial today which draws heavily on Transparent California’s data:

Administrative bloat has increasingly become a problem for California schools at all levels, from K-12 through the University of California and California State University systems. A new analysis of CSU employees’ compensation packages helps to illustrate why.

According to Transparent California, the average pay-and-benefits package for full-time Cal State employees in 2014 was $103,864

Read the rest here.

Contra Costa County Schools Hit with Rate Increase to Fund Sanitary District’s $100k+ Pensions

Transparent California was featured in the Contra Costa Times and the OC Register today!

From the Contra Costa Times op-ed, Contra Costa Sanitary District pensions should cover rate increase:

Less than two years after hiking rates to help fund inflated pay packages, the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District is seeking another rate increase, which is expected to hit local schools the hardest. The proposal would increase charges on homeowners by 14.5 percent, and triple the approximately $50,000 fee local high schools currently pay.

When learning of the proposed hikes, Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s executive director of operations, Jeff McDaniel, needed to be “picked up off the floor” according to a report in this paper. County ratepayers may find themselves floored as well, upon realizing just where their money is going.

In 2014, the average pay and benefits package for a full-time, year-round Sanitary District employee was $207,486 — roughly half of which is the employer cost of funding their pension and Rolls-Royce-style health, dental and vision insurance plans that cost as much as $36,868 a year.

The OC Register ran a front-page story, Special pay pads pension checks, which relied heavily on data and analysis from Transparent California:

They’re the little extras tacked on to “pensionable pay” – from mainstays like chunks of unused leave time to such oddities as the “motorcycle bonus” and “confined space pay.”

Add them up, and some public workers in Orange County are boosting their “final average salaries” by some 20 percent, according to an analysis by Transparent California, the data arm of the conservative California Policy Center.