They earn how much?

Study reveals region's city staffs among state's highest-paid
By: Jorden Hales of the Auburn Journal
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Data on earnings of local municipal employees, including names, pay and benefits gathered by Transparent California – the state’s largest public-sector compensation database – was released in December.

The data, which was previously unseen, shows that average compensation for employees of the greater Sacramento area’s 26 cities was $109,785 in 2013, according to a press release from Transparent California.

Among the highest-paid: Roseville City Attorney Brita J. Bayless and Roseville City Manager Ray Kerridge, who earned $362,433 and $356,208, respectively.

Other Placer County staff listed include Rocklin City Manager Ricky Horst and Rocklin City Attorney Russell Hildebrand, who earned $273,878 and $289,550, respectively.

David E. Miller, the community development and public works director for the city of Folsom, earned $246,794 last year. 

“It’s a part of a much larger trend: that public pay almost always goes up,” said Robert Fellner, research director of Transparent California. “You can look back at periods (like) the recession, not too far off, very recently. And you see periods of time where people’s income is stagnating or,  in many instances, declining. You don’t really find that in the public sector. You’re gonna find that even in periods of time when the private sector might be struggling or you’re seeing the median household income decline, public-sector pay maybe doesn’t go up quite as much as it normally does, but I’ve never seen a period of time where it actually declines.”

The report states that 70 regional municipal employees made at least $50,000 each in overtime pay alone in 2013 and noted that “such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.”

Former Auburn City Manager Bob Richardson, who left his position to take the same job in Grass Valley earlier this year, reportedly earned $188,000 during 2012, nearly $80,000 more than the regional average. Transparent California’s records indicate Richardson earned $160,228.47 in total pay and benefits during his final year with Auburn. However, the drop is not attributed to any legislative or policy changes, but more likely a fluctuation in paid benefits or overtime pay.

Auburn’s current city manager, Tim Rundel, earns $152,000 per year, according to previous reports in the Journal.

Calls to the city of Auburn were not returned as of press time Tuesday.

 “It’s not that there’s been massive salary increases,” Fellner said. “It’s that there’s been onsistent salary increases, and consistent salary increases mean consistent increases in pension benefits. Now, we’ve reached a time where some of the numbers are pretty shocking. At some point, this compounding problem is going to reach unsustainable heights.”

Transparent California noted that while inflation and a higher cost of living are often cited when advocating pay increases, the salaries tracked do not reveal any correlation between them.

“Certainly that is an understandable argument to use,” Fellner said. “For public employees, there used to be this trade-off of low pay for high job security, and that’s gone,” he said.

“Public employees have now passed comparable private sector (workers) in terms of pay, the benefits, how young they can retire and medical benefits provided into retirement, as well.”

A significant number of Placer County public employees listed in the report made more than Gov. Jerry Brown, who reportedly made $165,288 in 2013.