San Diego County employee salaries

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San Diego County employee salaries are subject to the California Public Records Act. Investigative Newsource offers a searchable database for 2009 county employee salaries.[1]

San Diego County is located in the southwestern corner of California. The county seat is in the largest city, San Diego, with a population of 3,095,313 according to the 2010 U.S. Census. It is the second-most populous county in California, behind its northern neighbor, Los Angeles County.[2]


San Diego county budget, employee expenditures[3]
Year Salaries/benefits expenditures
FY 2009-10 (actual) $1,372,207
FY 2010-11 (adopted) $1,625,803
FY 2010-11 (amended) $1,538,985
FY 2010-11 (actual) $1,382,457
FY 2011-12 (adopted) $1,677,430
FY 2012-13 (approved) $1,715,201

The approved budget expenditures on employee compensation for FY 2012-13 were the highest in the three prior fiscal years.

San Diego county key officials' salaries[4]
Title Salary (maximum annual)
Assessor* $199,139
District Attorney* $252,782
Sheriff* $229,424
Treasurer* $177,923
District 1 Supervisor approx. $143,031**
District 2 Supervisor approx. $143,031**
District 3 Supervisor approx. $143,031**
District 4 Supervisor approx. $143,031**
District 5 Supervisor approx. $143,031**

*Elected officials[5] **Under Article 3.2: Compensation for Board of Supervisors, 3.2.1: Supervisors’ Salary states, “[C]ounty Supervisors (Class 0100) shall be paid an annual salary rate equal to eighty percent (80%) of the annual salary prescribed by law and as adjusted by law for Judges of the Superior Court.[6] Compensation for superior court judges statewide was $178,789 (in 2009).[7]

Of the elected officials, the District Attorney earned the highest salary of $252,782.

The highest-earners in the county included "Temporary Expert Professionals," who made $324,040 a year.[8] Three of the highest-earning positions were those in medical fields. The number of San Diego County employees making $100,000 or more in base salary jumped 31 percent from 2007 to 2009, according to data released by the county government.[9]

San Diego county 10 highest-paid workers, listed in order of highest maximum annual salary
Title Annual salary (maximum)
Temporary Expert Professional (*) $326,040
Temporary Expert Professional, Psychiatrist $326, 040
Temporary Expert Professional, M.D., D.O., D.V.M. $326,040
Chief Administrative Officers $307,840
County Counsel $276,640
Chief Financial Officer $276,640
Asst. Chief Administrative Officer $276,640
District Attorney $252,782
Chief Medical Examiner $249,600
Public Defender $249,600

Projected pension cost

San Diego County's credit ratings with regard to pension obligations:

Moody’s Investors Services Standard & Poor’s Fitch Ratings
Aa2 (GSR) AA+ AA+

The county’s outstanding long-term principal pension obligation bonded debt as of June 30, 2011 was $841.3 million and $806.8 million projected as of June 30, 2012.[10]

Car use/purchasing

Very limited information was available regarding the purchase of vehicles.[11]

Department Quantity Cost
Sheriff Department Unknown $1,501
Fleet vehicles Unknown $1,664

Salary records project

In 2011, Sunshine Review chose 152 local governments as the focus of research on public employee salaries. The editors of Sunshine Review selected eight states with relevant political contexts (listed alphabetically):

1. California
2. Florida
3. Illinois
4. Michigan
5. New Jersey
6. Pennsylvania
7. Texas
8. Wisconsin

Within these states, the editors of Sunshine Review focused on the most populous cities, counties and school districts, as well as the emergency services entities within these governments. The purpose of this selection method was to develop articles on governments affecting the most citizens.

The salary information garnered from these states were a combination of existing online resources and state Freedom of Information Act requests sent out to the governments.

Importance of public employee pay disclosure

In July 2010, The Los Angeles Times uncovered that officials in Bell, California were making remarkably high salaries.[12] Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo was earning a yearly $787,637. It was later uncovered that Rizzo's total compensation after taking benefits into account topped $1.5 million a year.[13]

For comparison:[12]

  • Manhattan Beach, with about 7,000 fewer people than Bell, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year.
  • Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, paid its city manager $235,000 annually.
  • Los Angeles County paid its chief executive, William T. Fujioka, $338,458.

Corruption solution

After this report was released, governments began to proactively disclose salary information of their employees. Before the end of the summer of 2010, more than a dozen cities in Orange County, for example, posted salary information on the front pages of their websites.[14]

The cost of transparency websites maintaining such information ranges from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands. These websites also save money, and this often is not taken into account when measuring costs.

Citizens upset about the breach of trust and armed with information formed a group called the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, which pushed for an independent audit of city salaries and contracts.[15]

Citizens, empowered with information, are key to keeping government free from corruption and efficient. A study published by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia revealed that the city of Philadelphia has a problem with the efficiency and costs of public employee pensions.[16] The amount that Philadelphia pays to pension recipients limits the city’s ability to use its budget effectively.

The report revealed that there were more individuals receiving pension benefits—33,907 claimants in 2006—than workers in the city—28,701.[16] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[16] First, improve data collection so that decision-making in terms of pension policies is more informed. Second, promote transparency for better accountability to citizens. Third, reduce costs and use the savings for developing Philadelphia.

Resistance to public employee salary data as public records

The idea of making public employee salaries is relatively new. In 2008, several local government employee associations and unions protested the posting of state employee salaries by newspaper The Sacramento Bee.[17][18] At the time, it was seen as a safety risk and invasion of privacy.

Sunshine Review aims in posting salary information

Publicly posted salaries often leave out important information. Salary schedules can be published as ranges, not as specific take-home compensation, and high-level, highly-paid positions are often not disclosed proactively.[14][13] Additionally, salaries leave out compensation received through health and retirement benefits, as well as benefits such as commuter allowances and cell phone reimbursements. This project aimed to close the gap and provide a more accurate picture of public employee salaries for the sake of public education and transparency.

See also

External links