Saturday, October 27, 2012

outrageous govt salaries local

By Gretchen Wenner Posted January 14, 2012 at 5:20 p.m. DiscussPrintAAA If you're a cop, work in Port Hueneme. A city manager? Oxnard. If you like overtime, get a badge or hospital scrubs. The second year's batch of salary data for all local city and county workers — part of a new statewide ritual launched in the wake of the Bell city pay scandal in 2010 — provides a peek at public pay and benefits to boost transparency. Some interesting tidbits from calendar year 2010: • The local list begins and ends in Oxnard, where City Manager Ed Sotelo nabbed the No. 1 spot with $296,800 and a temporary library aide ranked 14,411th by earning $4. • The county's seventh-highest earner was an Oxnard police sergeant who took in $255,714 — more than $154,000 above the maximum salary range for that position. • No city of Ventura employees cracked the Top 20 earners' list, although staffers did from two smaller cities, Camarillo and Moorpark. Other no-shows in the Top 20 were Santa Paula, Port Hueneme, Fillmore and Ojai. • Four of the five highest-paid employees in one of the county's smallest cities, Port Hueneme, work in the police department. The department's average pay, at just over $96,000, is the highest for law enforcement countywide. • A total of 2,193 local government employees earned $100,000 or more. More than half of those, 1,210, were in law enforcement or were firefighters. • 237 employees, the bulk of them in law enforcement or firefighters, exceeded annual salary maximums by more than $50,000 during the year. Eight topped the maximum by more than $100,000. • 41 people earned more than $200,000. Although the state database for 2010 salaries was posted a few weeks ago, a complete list for Ventura County wasn't available right away because the city of Ventura's numbers were delayed by computer programming issues. Jacob Roper, spokesman for state Controller John Chiang's office, said the pay postings have remained popular even after the Bell scandal faded from headlines. "There's still a ton of interest," he said. "We're still seeing great Web traffic." There also is greater compliance from local governments, Roper said. Chiang's office created a website in late 2010 after a series of Los Angeles Times stories drew international attention to the Bell city manager's pay of more than $787,000 — which had been hidden from the public — and other alleged corruption. "We were glad when the controller launched their site," said David Grau, a board member of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association. The information does increase transparency, he said, and makes a good starting point, "as long as the viewer understands it may or may not include all compensation." The controller's numbers allow apple-to-apple comparisons of one slice of information: total wages subject to Medicare taxes. But pay can be more complicated than that. The controller's system pegs Sotelo's pay, for example, at nearly $297,000. But someone requesting his total compensation from the city of Oxnard would be given a figure totaling $381,767. Similarly, Ventura County's former chief executive officer, Marty Robinson, came in at $284,666 on the controller's site. The county, which posts names and salary information for high earners, listed Robinson's 2010 total compensation at $333,838. Other issues can distort specifics. In Ojai, the No. 5 earner in 2010 was a recreation supervisor. But the salary amount is much higher than normal for that position because of a settlement with the former employee, said Steve McClary, assistant to the city manager. People who are retiring can cash in vacation days, boosting their pay beyond typical levels, officials said. Certifications, bilingual pay and education incentives also drive up incomes. And overtime, of course, pushed thousands of workers above maximum salary ranges. Some who earned the highest amounts above maximums worked for the county's Health Care Agency. A radiologic specialist, a clinical lab scientist and a hospital nurse all earned more than $94,000 above maximums, taking home totals that easily pushed them into healthy six-figure incomes. Matt Carroll, assistant county executive officer, said the bulk of such additional pay is overtime. In health care especially, "if you're willing to have no personal life, you can pick up an overtime shift nearly every day you have off," Carroll said. Department heads are in charge of their own overtime budgets. "If they exceed their budget, they have to answer for it," he said. Also apparently raking in the overtime were police officers and firefighters. Jim Cameron, Oxnard's finance director, didn't immediately know the name of the police sergeant who earned $255,714 — the maximum salary for the position is $101,533 — but suspected most of the extra was overtime. Some overtime is required for police, he said. It's not just for high-profile emergencies like a recent shootout there, but also for more mundane duties such as court appearances, which might be held on an officer's day off. The police department had been running internal reports to see if some individuals were getting excess overtime, he said, but it hasn't been able to do so lately because it has been short-staffed."We do keep an eye on it," Cameron said. "Unfortunately, overtime is a little bit hard to control." In Port Hueneme, apparent overtime launched two police sergeants into the city's Top 5 list — above the public works and finance directors. In fact, that city's Top 20 list is dominated by police. In addition to the chief, 13 other police department employees, including seven officers, show up. Finance Director Robert Bravo agreed some cops there "do very well." "They're working it all and should be compensated for it," said Bravo, whose own wages were bested by one officer. In Ventura, where not even the highest-paid employee was among the 20 highest earners countywide, Human Resources Director Jenny Roney said the city has been on an austerity program. "We haven't given raises in years," she said, nor has Ventura benchmarked its pay levels against other cities. While Ventura hasn't been hiring much lately, there have been situations over the past couple of years in which prospective employees have refused offers because pay or benefits weren't enough, she said. City and county officials generally said the pay information was easy to send to the state and that they supported transparency. Ventura's figures previously had been prepared with a Band-Aid approach, said Rudy Livingston, the city's assistant finance officer. This time, the information was months late because computer folks were figuring ways to create a quality report for easy use in the future. That much, at least, worked well. "Next year's report is already done," Livingston said of the 2011 numbers. Digital editor Gretchen Macchiarella contributed to this report. 2010 salaries for city and county employees See all of the reports and investigate the salaries for yourself. Read more: -

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