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California Cities and Counties Mandated to Disclose Public Employees' Salaries



August 11, 2010 By

Public officials' six-figure salaries won't go unnoticed much longer, as California cities and counties will be required this fall to report employees' compensation to the State Controller's Office -- which will post the numbers online.

Amid reports that Bell, Calif., spent $1.6 million annually on salaries for three city employees, and nearly $100,000 for each part-time city councilor, the State Controller's Office recently expanded its local government revenues and expenditures reporting mandate.

While specific details on reporting requirements are still being developed, State Controller's Office Spokesman Jacob Roper said the salaries of all elected officials and employees -- from city managers, county supervisors and police chiefs, to janitors, secretaries and lifeguards -- will fall under this mandate.

"This is a way to give locals a better idea of how their tax dollars are being spent on city and county administration," Roper said, noting that every salary for each employment classification must be reported.

Prior law required governments to provide summary information regarding revenues and expenditures to the controller's office, and payroll was included in the total amount listed for each program category, according to the controller's office. The deadline to provide such information is mid-October.

Big Cities Not Fazed by Mandate

Gathering and disseminating public employee salary information isn't an arduous task, officials say, and can be done quickly even for the biggest agencies.

In Los Angeles, doing so took only a week.

Once news hit that Bell -- which has a population of less than 40,000 -- was paying top officials extravagant salaries, neighboring city L.A. quickly took note and posted a salary database online of its 37,000-plus city government employees.

L.A. officials were able to make the data available online in a matter of days, said L.A. City Controller's Office Spokesman Ben Golombek.

"I think the [state] controller, in light of the scandal in Bell, wanted to make sure we increased transparency, and the public was provided with an opportunity to see where their taxpayer dollars were spent," Golombek said.

In San Francisco, a consolidated city-county government serving 800,000 residents, it'd be little work to compile the approximately 26,000 employees' salaries, said Controller's Office Budget and Analysis Director Leo Levenson.

"We do that stuff all the time," he said. "It's just a query on a database -- anyone should be able to provide salary information."

"As mandates go ... I think this is an easy one," Levenson said.

But without a clear set of reporting requirements laid out by the State Controller's Office -- and whether benefits will be included with salary disclosure -- the depth of details cities and counties must disclose remains to be seen. Eventually other public-sector entities such as redevelopment agencies and special districts will be included in the reporting requirements, Roper said.

 


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Comments

Som Karamchetty    |    Commented August 12, 2010

It helps taxpayers if they are able to know the salaries of public employees. It will be equally useful if the performance standards and performance appraisals are also posted. For example, they will know who is responsible for dog-catching and how many dogs the officer is catching. It will be helpful even among employees, supervisors, and managers that the right people are taking credit for the accomplishments.

Som Karamchetty    |    Commented August 12, 2010

It helps taxpayers if they are able to know the salaries of public employees. It will be equally useful if the performance standards and performance appraisals are also posted. For example, they will know who is responsible for dog-catching and how many dogs the officer is catching. It will be helpful even among employees, supervisors, and managers that the right people are taking credit for the accomplishments.

Som Karamchetty    |    Commented August 12, 2010

It helps taxpayers if they are able to know the salaries of public employees. It will be equally useful if the performance standards and performance appraisals are also posted. For example, they will know who is responsible for dog-catching and how many dogs the officer is catching. It will be helpful even among employees, supervisors, and managers that the right people are taking credit for the accomplishments.

Anonymous    |    Commented August 13, 2010

As a Public Servant, I am pleased these measures are taking place... I tire of those who are under the mis-impressiion that "ALL" civil servants are raking it in, whereas, the truth be known, most of us earn the same or less than our private sector colleagues; my private sector peers, for example earn far more than I do and think I am crazy; however, my calling was to help those less fortunate and disenfranchised in our society...it is a matter of choice. I hope this new transparancy will root out those who are grossly overpaid and under-productive...we shall see...

Anonymous    |    Commented August 13, 2010

As a Public Servant, I am pleased these measures are taking place... I tire of those who are under the mis-impressiion that "ALL" civil servants are raking it in, whereas, the truth be known, most of us earn the same or less than our private sector colleagues; my private sector peers, for example earn far more than I do and think I am crazy; however, my calling was to help those less fortunate and disenfranchised in our society...it is a matter of choice. I hope this new transparancy will root out those who are grossly overpaid and under-productive...we shall see...

Anonymous    |    Commented August 13, 2010

As a Public Servant, I am pleased these measures are taking place... I tire of those who are under the mis-impressiion that "ALL" civil servants are raking it in, whereas, the truth be known, most of us earn the same or less than our private sector colleagues; my private sector peers, for example earn far more than I do and think I am crazy; however, my calling was to help those less fortunate and disenfranchised in our society...it is a matter of choice. I hope this new transparancy will root out those who are grossly overpaid and under-productive...we shall see...

Anonymous    |    Commented August 16, 2010

I think only statistical information should be published. It is a far cry from knowing that 3 part time people make over 100K to knowing the salary of every individual. I can see the importance of knowing that city W employs X janitors making Y average with Z years on the job. It is another thing entirely to know that Johnny makes $12/hr and works in the library building.

Anonymous    |    Commented August 16, 2010

I think only statistical information should be published. It is a far cry from knowing that 3 part time people make over 100K to knowing the salary of every individual. I can see the importance of knowing that city W employs X janitors making Y average with Z years on the job. It is another thing entirely to know that Johnny makes $12/hr and works in the library building.

Anonymous    |    Commented August 16, 2010

I think only statistical information should be published. It is a far cry from knowing that 3 part time people make over 100K to knowing the salary of every individual. I can see the importance of knowing that city W employs X janitors making Y average with Z years on the job. It is another thing entirely to know that Johnny makes $12/hr and works in the library building.

Sick and Tired of Being Screwed as a Government Worker    |    Commented August 17, 2010

No. Don't publish them. People already know who is doing a good job and who isn't by what is going on in the community. Performance reviews are personnel matters, not public matters. They don't belong in the public's viewing area since they are private employee matters. This attitude that just because you work for government, you have no privacy rights, no right to expect decent pay for decent work, no right to any benefits or pensions such as a worker in the private sector might get, no right to be adequately compensated based your job duties, education, training, skill levels is BUNK.

Sick and Tired of Being Screwed as a Government Worker    |    Commented August 17, 2010

No. Don't publish them. People already know who is doing a good job and who isn't by what is going on in the community. Performance reviews are personnel matters, not public matters. They don't belong in the public's viewing area since they are private employee matters. This attitude that just because you work for government, you have no privacy rights, no right to expect decent pay for decent work, no right to any benefits or pensions such as a worker in the private sector might get, no right to be adequately compensated based your job duties, education, training, skill levels is BUNK.

Sick and Tired of Being Screwed as a Government Worker    |    Commented August 17, 2010

No. Don't publish them. People already know who is doing a good job and who isn't by what is going on in the community. Performance reviews are personnel matters, not public matters. They don't belong in the public's viewing area since they are private employee matters. This attitude that just because you work for government, you have no privacy rights, no right to expect decent pay for decent work, no right to any benefits or pensions such as a worker in the private sector might get, no right to be adequately compensated based your job duties, education, training, skill levels is BUNK.

Anonymous    |    Commented August 19, 2010

Only Titles and Salaries Please - Who's excluded from this ruling? Judges? Police? Social Workers? Fraud investigators? Or are names hidden? If we remember details of the unibomber case, he picked names from public information. Anyone with a grudge could use this name & classification to identify who to target. Privacy rights should be respected and extended for all citizens except ELECTED officials.

Anonymous    |    Commented August 19, 2010

Only Titles and Salaries Please - Who's excluded from this ruling? Judges? Police? Social Workers? Fraud investigators? Or are names hidden? If we remember details of the unibomber case, he picked names from public information. Anyone with a grudge could use this name & classification to identify who to target. Privacy rights should be respected and extended for all citizens except ELECTED officials.

Anonymous    |    Commented August 19, 2010

Only Titles and Salaries Please - Who's excluded from this ruling? Judges? Police? Social Workers? Fraud investigators? Or are names hidden? If we remember details of the unibomber case, he picked names from public information. Anyone with a grudge could use this name & classification to identify who to target. Privacy rights should be respected and extended for all citizens except ELECTED officials.

Anonymous    |    Commented August 19, 2010

Why stop at salaries and benefits?...continue on and disclose the names of recipients of public assistance. Disclose purchasing information and vendor selection/payment processes. I think it ALL should be out there.

Anonymous    |    Commented August 19, 2010

Why stop at salaries and benefits?...continue on and disclose the names of recipients of public assistance. Disclose purchasing information and vendor selection/payment processes. I think it ALL should be out there.

Anonymous    |    Commented August 19, 2010

Why stop at salaries and benefits?...continue on and disclose the names of recipients of public assistance. Disclose purchasing information and vendor selection/payment processes. I think it ALL should be out there.


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