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.