Top LA County Pension Passes $400,000 Mark

The top pension payout at the Los Angeles County Employees’ Retirement Association (LACERA) has eclipsed $400,000 for the first time ever, according to just released public pension data.

Today, Transparent California released 2016 pension payout data for the city and county of Los Angeles, as well as the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System (SDCERS).

Former Harbor-UCLA Medical Center chief physician Charles Mehringer’s $403,375 pension was the first time the $400,000 threshold was broken at LACERA. The next 3 highest LACERA pension payouts went to:

  • Retired sheriff Leroy Baca: $334,978.
  • Retired UCLA medical center chief physician Robert Morin: $326,278.
  • Retired sheriff Larry Waldie: $325,554.

The top three Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (LACERS) payouts went to:

  1. Retired personnel department general manager Margaret Whelan: $237,451.
  2. Retired harbor department general manager Bruce Seaton: $236,530.
  3. Retired harbor department port pilot Michael Owens: $234,159.

San Diego

Former fire battalion chief Benjamin Castro’s $885,848 payout topped the SDCERS list — $816,760 of which came from the controversial deferred retirement option plan (DROP). DROP allows an employee to draw a salary and pension simultaneously for up to 5 years, with each year’s pension being deposited into an interest-bearing account. Upon actual retirement, the accumulated balance can be withdrawn either as a lump-sum payment or rolled over into an annuity.

The next three highest SDCERS payouts went to:

  • Retired assistant police chief Mark Jones: $797,408.
  • Retired police captain Dawn Summers: $747,843.
  • Retired fire battalion chief Daniel Saner: $727,696.

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

Combined $1 million pay package for Escondido’s city attorney and manager tops state 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.

Escondido city attorney Jeffrey Epp’s $521,204 and city manager Clayton Phillips’ $518,749 total compensation packages made them the state’s highest-compensated city attorney and manager, respectively, and the 2nd and 3rd highest-compensated city workers of the more than 245,000 employees surveyed.

Epp and Phillips benefit from the ability to cash in extraordinary amounts of unused leave, thanks to a contract that provides 10 paid holidays, 20 management leave days, and about a month of vacation each year, according to a recent San Diego Union-Tribune report.

A survey of 16 San Diego County cities, excluding the City of San Diego, revealed that the average full-time city worker received $122,614 in total compensation last year.

The three San Diego County cities with the highest average compensation package for full-time, year round employees were:

  1. San Marcos: $134,555
  2. Santee: $133,009
  3. Carlsbad: $129,402

San Diego City

The average full-time San Diego City worker received $86,335 in wages and benefits, excluding the cost of pension benefits. San Diego did not provide the cost of retirement benefits on an employee level; however the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System reported an average contribution rate of 62 percent for the 2015 fiscal year, suggesting an average cost of nearly $42,330 per member.

25 San Diego city workers collected over $100,000 in overtime payouts, with overtime spending increasing nearly 6.5 percent city-wide.

The largest overtime payout to a non-safety city worker went to lifeguard Ric Stell, who received $90,230 in overtime on top of a $63,093 salary.

San Diego should follow the lead of virtually every other California city and county by reporting pension costs on an individual, employee basis, according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“There is no excuse for providing incomplete, and consequently misleading, data on government pay packages. San Diego should join the rest of the state and report full compensation values to the public, particularly given that taxpayers must bear this extraordinary cost.”

San Diego County

The County’s top earner — chief administrative officer Helen Robbins-Meyer — received a more than $25,000 salary bump last year to boost her total compensation to $448,008.

Spending on employee compensation at San Diego County increased 6 percent since the previous year, with a nearly 10.5 percent increase in overtime pay. The average full-time, year-round County worker collected $104,021 in total compensation.

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.

 

Ousted San Diego Port CEO received over $90,000 a month in 2014

Today, Transparent California released 2014 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for the 26 largest special districts in San Diego County, representing over 95 percent of all San Diego County special district workers.

Former Port of San Diego CEO Wayne Darbeau received $613,774 in total compensation for less than seven months of employment, making him the fourth highest-compensated San Diego County special district worker. Despite being fired in July after reports of nepotism surfaced, Darbeau was still permitted to collect a full yearly salary, plus severance pay.

Elected officials betray the public interest by allowing employment contracts like Darbeau’s, according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“It is unconscionable that unethical behavior is rewarded with lucrative severance packages, at taxpayer expense.”

The average San Diego special district paid $121,543 in total compensation for full-time, year round employees.

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

  1. North County Fire Protection District: $175,138
  2. San Diego County Water Authority: $152,956
  3. Valley Center Municipal Water District: $147,037

Average compensation for full-time employees of San Diego special districts

SanDiegoSDS

The five highest-compensated San Diego special district workers were:

  1. Former Palomar Health CEO Michael Covert: $791,973
  2. Incoming Palomar Health CEO Robert Hemker: $748,998
  3. Tri-City Medical COO Casey Fatch: $633,980
  4. San Diego Unified Port CEO Wayne Darbeau: $613,774
  5. San Diego Metropolitan Transit System CEO Paul Chester Jablonski: $510,753

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 San Diego’s special district data, Transparent California now has 2014 compensation data from over 450 special districts statewide, with further 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.

60 percent of San Diego-area city workers collected over $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.

The average full-time city worker for all 17 cities in San Diego County, excluding the City of San Diego, received $121,543 in total compensation, with 60 percent having received $100,000 or more. The average wage was $88,888, with 35 percent paid at least $100,000.

The three San Diego cities with the highest average compensation package for full-time, year-round employees were:

  1. San Marcos: $147,762
  2. Santee City: $143,917
  3. Chula Vista: $134,557

To view a table of the average wages for all San Diego County 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.”

City of San Diego

The average full-time San Diego worker received $74,767 in wages. San Diego did not provide the cost of retirement benefits on an employee level; however the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System reported an average contribution rate of 60 percent for the 2014 fiscal year, suggesting an average cost of nearly $40,000 per member.

“The failure of public pension plans is on full display at the City of San Diego, where retirement costs are a staggering 20 times greater than what that the median private employer pays,” according to Fellner.

The three highest compensated employees in San Diego were:

  1. Escondido attorney Jeffrey Epp: $507,409.
  2. Escondido manager Clayton Phillips: $490,699.
  3. San Diego County chief administrative officer Helen Robbins-Meyer: $419,302

Epp and Phillps each increased their total compensation by over $100,000 by converting unused leave into cash, according to city officials.

Overtime and other pay boosts earnings

The combined overtime and other pay at all San Diego cities was worth 22 percent of regular pay, as compared to the statewide average of 19 percent.

San Marcos, El Cajon and San Diego’s total overtime and other pay was the highest of any city in San Diego County at 27, 26 and 24 percent of regular pay, respectively.

San Marcos city workers’ pay more than double that of residents

San Diego city workers’ earnings soar above those of city residents, just-released data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals.

The median full-time, year-round San Marcos city worker earned $107,656 — more than double the $43,583 median earnings of city residents.

This information for all cities in San Diego County is here.

Statewide

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

regional

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.

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.

Full-career San Diego-area city retirees earn 59% more than residents’ average salary

San Diego County’s full-career municipal retirees received an average $84,145 CalPERS pension last year, according to just-released 2014 pension payout data from TransparentCalifornia.com.

The over 600,000 records — obtained through a series of public records requests to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) ­— reveals that the cities of Carlsbad and Chula Vista are among the top ten agencies with the highest average CalPERS non-safety pensions statewide, at $102,437 and $93,971, respectively.

By contrast, the average full-time worker in the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos area earned $53,020 last year, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

“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 noted that the atypically large pensions for miscellaneous retirees — which includes all non-safety employees — of cities in San Diego County were due to their use of a rare, but extremely generous benefit formula known as “3% @ 60.” The formula allows for a pension worth 120 percent of an employee’s highest salary after 40 years of service if retiring at age 60 or later.

In total, 68 San Diego-area miscellaneous retirees received a base pension, which excludes subsequent cost of living increases, worth at least 100 percent of their highest salary.

The 3 largest CalPERS payouts to San Diego-area retirees went to:

  1. William Garrett, former El Cajon City manager: $299,281,
  2. Vincent-Peer Hubner of Encinitas City: $264,555, and
  3. Paul C Malone, former San Marcos City manager: $237,922.

Such exorbitant benefits are the reason pension contributions are skyrocketing, Fellner said.

“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 San Diego cities

Fellner noted that the median contribution rate for the 6 largest cities in San Diego County — 28 percent for miscellaneous and 37 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.

Retired San Diego Parks and Recreation Director Tops 2014 Pension List with $756,000 Payout

Today, Transparent California posted the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System 2014 pension data. The report showed 809 retirees received payouts of at least $100,000, an 11% increase from the previous year, with 22 retirees receiving payouts of over $500,000.

The top payout went to former Parks & Recreation Deputy Director, Kathleen Hasenauer, who received a $756,204 payout – nearly $650,000 of which came from the controversial deferred retirement option plan (DROP). DROP allows an employee to draw a salary and pension simultaneously for up to 5 years, with each year’s pension being deposited into an interest-bearing account. Upon actual retirement, the accumulated balance can be withdrawn either as a lump-sum payment or rolled over into an annuity.

The next three highest payouts were:

  • Marvin Terry, police agent, received $733,319.
  • James Filley, police lieutenant, received $680,009.
  • William Pepper, fire captain, received $658,629.

While 22 of the top 25 payouts went to police or fire retirees, many regular employees enjoyed six figure payouts too. Four of the largest payouts made to non-safety retirees are below:

  • Supervising workers comp claims representative: $434,709
  • Land surveying associate: $402,373
  • Librarian IV: $396,694
  • Grounds Maintenance Manager: $327,917

The average payout for a non-safety retiree with at least 30 years of service was $70,228. For fire retirees with at least 25 years of service it was $97,452 and the average police retiree received $102,752.

Excluding DROP or annuity payouts, the highest annual base pension went to retired assistant city attorney, Eugene Gordon, at $205,653 a year.

The City discontinued the DROP program for new hires as of 2006, but a 2011 city-commissioned study estimated the total cost of the program at approximately $149 million, with the City’s former actuary estimating the cost at $192 million.

To see the full list of 2014 San Diego City pension payouts click here.

Over 280 retired educators of Greater San Diego receive eye-popping pension payouts of $100,000 or more

Over 280 retired educators of Greater San Diego receive eye-popping pension payouts of $100,000 or more

Bad Education: Transparent California Releases 2014 CalSTRS Pension Data

TUSTIN — Today, TransparentCalifornia.com released 2014 pension records for 256,305 CalSTRS pensioners, received through a series of public records request.

The data reveals that at just the 10 biggest school districts in the Greater San Diego area 286 CalSTRS pensioners took home pension payouts of $100,000 or more in 2014. The average pension for those who worked 30 years or more at these districts was $65,605 for the year. Of those who retired in 2000 and later, the figure was $70,614. (These payouts do not include the value of generous health benefits.)

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is run by the California Policy Center and Nevada Policy Research Institute.

Statewide, 8,888 CalSTRS retirees received pension payouts of $100,000 or more in 2014. The average pension for those who worked 30 years or more was $66,641 for the year. Of those who retired in 2000 and later, the figure was $74,910.

To view the data click here. To explore the data by specific school district click here.

“Widespread six-figure pension payouts for retired educators challenge the popular conception of the poor retired teacher struggling to get by on a fixed pension,” said Mark Bucher, president of the California Policy Center. “The release of this data will give policymakers, journalists and Californians-at-large better context of hot-button issues surrounding teacher contracts and compensation.”

The three biggest CalSTRS pension recipients in the Greater San Diego area in 2014 were:

  • Rudy Castruita, San Diego County Office of Education, who received $274,265
  • Kenneth Noonan, Oceanside Unified, who received $256,547
  • Terry Davis, San Diego Community College District, who received $239,735

The top three biggest CalSTRS pension recipients statewide in 2014 were:

  • William Habermehl, Orange County Office of Education, who received $347,856
  • Richard Bray, Tustin Unified School District, who received $307,135
  • Edward Hernandez Jr., Rancho Santiago Community College District, who received $304,652

Based on the ten biggest school districts in each region, the average pensions of those who worked 30 years or more by other California region were:

  • Bay Area: $65,414
  • Sacramento & the Central Valley: $63,682
  • Central Coast: $60,532
  • Greater Los Angeles: $69,002

Ten biggest school districts by total payroll in Greater San Diego

Name County Avg. Full-Career Pension
Greater San Diego = San Diego County, Imperial County
San Diego Unified San Diego $61,832
Sweetwater Union High San Diego $70,738
Chula Vista Elementary San Diego $70,124
Grossmont Union High San Diego $67,503
Vista Unified San Diego $61,974
San Marcos Unified San Diego $72,460
Escondido Union Elementary San Diego $64,478
Cajon Valley Union Elementary San Diego $66,864
San Diego County Office of Education San Diego $86,695
San Dieguito Union High San Diego $77,709

Transparent California is a project of two nonpartisan, free-market think tanks, the California Policy Center and Nevada Policy Research Institute. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.