Mission Viejo staff wages and benefits

Mission Viejo

Photo coutesy MV Dispatch

On Wednesday, October 20th about 180 people attended a Legislative Oversight Hearing in Santa Ana that addressed the topic of Transparency and Accountability.

“Three of the Committee’s members participated in the oversight hearing: Senator Christine Kehoe, Vice Chair, Senator Sam Aanestad and Senator Mark DeSaulnier.”

Background. When I was a candidate for the Mission Viejo city council in 1994 city staff and our city attorney refused to provide managers’ salary information in response to my Public Records request. They only shared salary ranges for each manager questioning my right as a Mission Viejo taxpayer to have the actual data.

As a result of this recent Senate Local Government meeting, triggered by the ongoing financial exposures in the city of Bell, I just tested our city’s compliance for the same information and received the following data.

Dennis Wilberg, our city manager. W-2 box 5 $245,699.04 Sect. 125 Cafeteria Plan, Long Tem Disability, Retiree Health Ins adds $23322.19. Life insurance $388.80, car allowance $6,853.95, cell phone allowance $1,495.26 and pension contributions paid by the City of Mission Viejo $59,346.11. Total  $337,105.35

The objective of receiving this data is to project future funding obligations for our city government based on current staffing, wages and benefits.

While I will not provide the same level of details for the other 13 individuals that I selected, last years pension obligations for these 14 employees totals $463,832.07. With approximately 150 employees this becomes a sizable future expenditure to consider.

The fact that we are going to a different benefit program for future hires is irrelevant. The contract city of Mission Viejo, that does not have its own police, fire or sanitation departments, is built out and has a hiring freeze.

The following was last year’s total compensation as reported by Mission Viejo:

Irwin Bornstein, Asst. CM   $283,434.36

Karen Wylie, Deputy City Manager   $180,076.33

Karen Hamman, City Clerk    $191,101.71

Charles Wilson, Dir. Community Dev.   $218,279.89

Jackie Alexander, Dir. I.T.   $227,085.89

Valerie Maginnis, Dir Library & Cultural Svcs.   $222,512.33

Keith Rattay, Dir Public Services  $243,222.47

Mark Chagnon, Dir Public Works $199,249.56

Kelly Doyle, Dir Rec & Community Svcs.,  $216,630.93

Kathy Rios, Sr. Exec. Asst.  $108,587.26

Steve Bell, Community Svcs. Mgr.,  $175,467.63

Paul Catsimanes, Public Svce Admin. Mgr.,  $172,348.41

David Cendejas, Senior Mgmt. Analyst  $132,329.42

Let me close this report by stating that in industry we engaged in “benchmarking” our product and process against the best manufacturers in other industries around the globe. The word of caution is that too many cities compare themselves and their staff’s with each other to justify what I believe to be excessive compensation if compared with the private sector.

Some time back I reported the compensation of our governor with the huge number of departments and staffs’ under his leadership. Another illustration used by me was the governor of Texas.

TX Governor Rick Perry earns $150,000 per year and has a staff of 267 reporting directly to him.

 The State of Texas, with a population of arond 25 million, has a two year budget of $182 billion dollars. Dennis Wilberg, our city manager, in a city of 100,000 inhabitants, makes twice as much  as Gov. Rick Perry.

Comparing any data point between Rick Perry and Dennis Wilberg I would opine that our compensation thought process is out of whack which can be blamed on past council members approving his annual contract agreements.

On  a local level. To compare the compensation of Laguna Hills City Manager Bruce Channing as the basis for other cities wage and benefit increases is a very dangerous benchmark regardless of how efficiently he runs their contract city with 27 full time employees. The same comment applies to similar staff positions.

I do wish to thank the city for responding to my latest Public Records request without any roadblocks within the 10 day window for providing a response.

About Larry Gilbert