THE BUZZ: In Oakland, the city payroll has exploded 43 percent in the last four years — up from $492 million in 2014 to an all-time high of $622 million in 2018, according to new data from the watchdog website, Transparent California.
Some of the city employees are making big bank. Take Oakland beat cop Malcom Miller, who has been among the city's top earners for the past five years. He took home $539,735 in total compensation for 2018, $452,363 from straight pay, the site reported. Another big earner: Fire Captain Lawrence Hom, who raked in $557,655 in total compensation — an amount bulked up by $309,185 in overtime pay. Then there's Civil Engineer Kenny Lau, who was reported to work 366 days in 2017, a leap year; last year, he earned regular pay of $116,503, plus overtime of $287,579, plus additional pay and benefits that put his total at $508,178, Robert Fellner of the organization told POLITICO Monday.
In Oakland, a city where the U.S. Census Bureau says the average full-time worker earns $50,313, that's quite a gap between the average resident and the local public servants. For those top earners, the take home pay is more than twice that of the California governor, who earns a salary of $201,680, according to the California Citizens' Compensation Commission.
In an email response to questions, Oakland public information officer L. Autumn King wrote, "the total compensation for just three employees reflects the daunting issue Oakland and many other cities face - the extreme rising costs of employee health benefits and pensions. The high overtime illustrates a high demand for services. Therefore, the city has added 310 fulltime positions in the last two years and put management controls in place to address this issue."
— THERE ARE ALSO SOME JAW-DROPPING NUMBERS OUT OF RICHMOND, another East Bay city with a bulked-up payroll, where — according to the website — an astounding 128 people earned more than $300,000 in 2018. That compares to just 35 in next-door Berkeley, the data shows. The city's average full-time worker salary is $40,546, according to Census figures.
Transparent California is affiliated with the conservative-leaning Nevada Policy Research Institute, which describes itself as a "non-profit, free market and limited government policy" shop. But it posts a wide variety of data on compensation regarding cities, counties and individuals that are worth a read. Check out their latest release here.