Conversation piece: Are city employees paid too much?

Conversation piece: Are city employees paid too much?

Michele Ellson

This week, city officials released 2011 salary data for hundreds of city employees. Some 50 city employees earned salaries and benefits totaling $200,000 or more. Police and fire managers held nine of the top 10 spots on the earnings chart, taking home more in pay and benefits than the directors of any other city department.

The list was topped by Police Captain James B. Brock, who earned $409,879 in pay and benefits - more than Chief Mike Noonan, who held the second spot on the list by earning $361,583 in pay and benefits in 2011. Brock, who retired in 2011, earned $164,739 in leave/deferred comp conversation pay. Alameda Municipal Power General Manager Girish Balachandran was the city's only non-safety employee to make the top 10 in 2011, earning $240,812 in pay and benefits.

Heads of nearly every city department who worked throughout 2011 earned pay and benefits of over $200,000 (City Clerk Lara Weisiger was the exception, taking home pay and benefits of $158,588), though the city was without a permanent city manager, city attorney, fire chief or community and economic development manager last year, and it no longer has directors running its planning or finance departments. Former Recreation and Park Director Dale Lillard, who retired last year but kept working for the city under a different job classification, took in $210,574 in pay and benefits.

Overtime pay and retiree benefit contributions helped boost the total compensation of public safety employees; city contributions to some safety employees' retirement accounts were double and triple those received by top managers in other departments. Fire apparatus operator William E. Klump, for example, earned pay and benefits of $214,241 in 2011 on a base salary of $100,308, the city's records show - more than the city's library and human resources directors, who had higher base pay but no overtime and a little more than half the retiree benefit contribution Klump received.

So what are your thoughts on city employee pay? Do you think city workers make too much, or just enough? The list, the third annual one released by city leaders following public records requests, can be downloaded by clicking the link below.


Submitted by Steve Gerstle on Fri, May 18, 2012

Is the median salary of city employees higher than the median salary of Alameda residents? If so, then the system is out of kilter. Public employee salaries should mirror those they are serving.

Do Alamedans believe that they are getting good value for their tax dollars? Do those high salaries reflect a high satisfaction with the services received?

Submitted by Irene on Sat, May 19, 2012

According to the city's website, the median household income in Alameda is $77,868:

Submitted by Irene on Sun, May 20, 2012

"So what are your thoughts on city employee pay? Do you think city workers make too much, or just enough?"

Let's focus on high salaries only.

Alameda should adopt the Hoover Commission's recommendation of capping at $90,000 the amount of salary used to calculate pensions and raising the eligibility age for receiving pension benefits. Current employees should participate.

I wrote about this in April of 2011:

Submitted by Really-question-mark on Wed, May 23, 2012

I don't generally begrudge people their salaries, a summing they are competent and perform above the level of expectations, but I have to say that I'm appalled by these salaries and gross pay. I was shocked to find almost 12 full pages of people making well over 100,000 dollars per year.

Not to pick on people, but do we seriously need to pay an AMP dispatcher over 150,000 dollars per year? I'm not talking about someone who actually does electrical work but someone who answers the phone and creates a ticket. That is shocking.

No wonder the teachers are upset about their salaries when their city breathern are getting disgustingly high salaries and benefits. I know the teachers aren't paid by the city, so save the commentary.

Why in the world are we paying so many police folks so damn much money? Seriously we are a small town with very little crime. I know this because I read the police blotter in the paper weekly. Since the vast majority of time I only see the cops hiding like cowards behind vehicles to jump out and write tickets to raise city funds, I'm willing to bet we can ditch a few. And no I have never received a ticket in Alameda!

Something has to be done about this!

Submitted by Really-question-mark on Wed, May 23, 2012


What can be done to bring these grossly inflated salaries to a sane level?

Can we put an initiative on the ballet to set an upper limit on pay and overtime or to slash the levels by a Todd percentage?

I'm willing to bet there would be mass outrage if the citizens of Alameda actually knew the amount of money paid in pay. I think I want to create a web site with each persons pay and their job description along with totals by department and the entire city. Either we are all unaware or stupid because this is beyond bad. It reminds me of the southern California town that was paying huge salaries to the city workers and they are now in jail for defrauding the people of Bell.

We need to start a serious discussion and campaign to end this and end it now!