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277 Garden Grove City Workers Crack $100K Club
Posted by Teri Sforza on 01/06/2012 at 4:39 PM
The percentage of Garden Grove city workers earning more than $100,000 in total compensation grew between 2009 and 2010, according to the most recent figures from the state controller’s office.

In 2009:

  • A total of 29.8 percent of all city workers were in the $100K club.
  • Average total compensation for all 924 paid positions — including part-timers — was $73,971. 
  • Of those, 276 earned total comp of more than $100K, 
  • and 15 earned total comp of more than $200K.

 In 2010:

  • A total of 31 percent of city workers were in the $100K club.
  • Average compensation for 894 paid positions — including part-timers — was $74,920.
  • Of those, 277 earned total comp of more than $100K,
  • and 14 earned total comp of more than $200K.

How does that compare? Garden Grove had a higher percentage of $100K Clubbers than Fullerton, Irvine and Laguna Beach; about the same percentage as Anaheim; and a smaller percentage than Orange, Santa  Ana and just about every special district we’ve looked at for 2009.

Now, keep in mind that these numbers include hundreds of part-time jobs. If we pull out just full-time workers, 40 percent of Garden Grove’s workers were $100K clubbers in 2009, with average compensation of $96,506.

Do the same for 2010, and the percentage of $100K Clubbers rises to about 42 percent, with average compensation of $96,730. (There’s only one new worker added to the club, but the percentage shoots up because the city reduced the number of full-time positions on staff.)

In the wake of the Bell pay scandal, all agencies in California are required to provide data to State Controller John Chiang. Peruse a  searchable database of the city’s pay detail here.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Garden Grove is one of the old O.C. cities that has its own fire and police departments. It spent 73.5 percent of its general fund budget on public safety last year.

These costs are weighing down many other older cities:  Santa Ana spent 77 percent of its budget on police and fire last year; while Westminster and Stanton also spent more than 70 percent on public safety. (Vallejo declared bankruptcy after those costs reached 80 percent, so it’s something to watch for. The more money that goes here, the less that goes to other city programs like parks and maintenance.)

In 2010, the police department listed 288 paid positions. Drop out cadets and part timers, and you get 252, with average compensation of $105,924, which is in keeping with other cities with their own police departments.

Garden Grove’s fire department listed 106 paid positions. Drop out interns and clerical assistants earning less than $10,000, and average comp is $132,219. That struck us as a bit high, with Fullerton firefighters averaging about $111,000. But city treasurer/human resources director John Clark doesn’t necessarily agree.

GARDEN GROVE SAYS….

“Total full-time staffing is the key metric, and that has been reduced each year since the start of the recession (we imposed a freeze in October, 2008),” Clark told us by email. “As far as authorized full-time positions go, we went from a high in FY 08-09 of 685 FT positions to 638 FT today. Part-time/seasonal/temporary staff fluctuates a great deal in the total number of unique employees—but total hours worked in this category has also been going down.

“The uptick in those receiving total comp of over $100k between the two years is solely due to more overtime being worked, as we continue to hold positions vacant for longer periods of time. This does result in a few more employees receiving over $100k, but still represents a net savings overall as the time-and-a-half is still cheaper than the cost of a new permanent employee.

“I would agree our Police salaries are about average.

“I think our Fire salaries are about average too, the difference you note is due to the aforementioned overtime effect.”

Clark helped us try to comb the controller’s database to identify full-time and part-time positions; it is an inexact science.

“I understand what the Controller was trying to do, he wanted to use actual pay figures from W-2s so cities couldn’t skirt around that by having employees in multiple jobs (San Juan Capistrano) or getting some form of supplemental pays (Bell),” Clark told us. “But I think the Controller’s Report would be a lot better if in addition to the actual pay figures, they also asked for budgeted full-time positions. As noted, the two totals won’t be exactly the same, but they should be in the neighborhood, and a big discrepancy would be a big red flag.”

Controller John Chiang! Seems like an easy thing to do for future reports. Please?

WORKERS PAY OWN WAY

Garden Grove has long been one of the few cities that made workers pull their own weight when it comes to retirement accounts.

As we told you Thursday, cities and counties are required to pay the employer’s contribution to worker retirement accounts, which is about 25 percent of each employee’s salary.

Then there’s the part that cities and counties don’t have to pay, but often do pay, to sweeten the pot: The employee’s required contribution to the retirement account, which is 8 percent or 9 percent of salary.

Local governments in California spent $1.34 billion picking up their employees‘ required contributions to retirement accounts in 2009 — and $1.96 billion doing the same in 2010.

Anaheim spent $11.5 million on these employee pickups. Santa Ana spent $10.8 million. Newport Beach spent $5 million.

But Garden Grove paid nothing. Many other agencies are starting to follow suit, and asking employees to pick up a larger share of their retirement contributions is part of just about every pension reform proposal floating around out there.

OTHERS

Here’s what we’ve found so far in this $100K club series:

Cities tend to have more general-skill workers than specialized governments like sewer and water districts, so often have a smaller percentage of city workers cracking the $100K club. Special districts, with their more highly-skilled workers, have a larger percentage cracking the $100K club.

WHAT IS TOTAL COMP?

Total compensation as reported to the state controller includes:

  • taxable wages as reported to the federal government
  • the cost of health, dental and vision insurance
  • deferred compensation
  • and what a city pays to cover the employee share of retirement costs. (It doesn’t include what the city pays as its share of retirement costs.)

SO WHAT?

We’ve undertaken this series with the express intent of making people aware of the nitty gritty — what local governments pay for everything from librarians and maintenance workers and administrative assistants to general managers and CEOs.

It’s detail that We the People have never had at our fingertips before. To those who say these analyses are useless, we whisper one word: Bell.

Until now, we’ve never been able to compare what an administrative assistant in one city/special district earns compared to an administrative assistant in another.

Some may think pay is too low for some jobs. Some may think it’s too high for others. You can use this information in discussions with your elected representatives, at the special district and the city levels.

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