Richmond city workers salaries outpace resident’s income

on December 6, 2014

City workers earned a median salary of about $100,000 last year, almost double the median household income of Richmond residents, according to figures provided by the City Attorney’s office.

Of the city’s full-time employees, 346 – more than half of all workers – surpassed the six-figure mark. The median household income in Richmond is $54,000.

At the top of the list was Angel Bobo, a fire captain, who earned $426,302 last year. Bobo made the biggest bucks in part by drawing $312,410 in overtime and other special pay.

Bobo was joined at the top by his colleagues, including Fire Captain Marc Palechek ($377,888), Fire Captain Daniel Linstad ($338,013), Fire Captain Linsy Mayo ($319,026) and Fire Captain John Wade ($298,928). Nine of the top 10 richest earners in the city were firefighters.

The hefty pay for public safety employees is no surprise to economists and others who have monitored municipal pay in California.

“Firefighters and police have been really well paid,” said Richard Walker, an economic and urban geography professor at the University of California Berkeley.

Firefighters and police earned an average of $145,000 last year compared to $85,000 for their nonpublic safety employees.

The money Bobo earned in overtime alone last year exceeded the sticker price on a 2014 Rolls Royce Ghost, but fire officials say he earned every penny in service to the city.

“We’re a very busy department,” Fire Chief Michael Banks said. “It’s always a balancing act to have enough bodies each and everyday to staff the fire stations.”

Of the top 100 city salaries, 92 were firefighters or police. Of the top 34 salaries, City Manager Bill Lindsay was the only one without a badge or a fire helmet.

Training, staffing and injuries were the main reasons a dozen firefighters were paid more than $100,000 in overtime last year, Banks said in a telephone interview.

But negotiation tactics by powerful unions might have played an even bigger role, Walker said.

The unions “have been very militant in supporting their own interest, often against the general communities interest and the interest of budgetary sanity,” Walker said. “It undermines the argument for good public salaries when some groups of management, police and fire, are getting exorbitant salaries that are out of proportion for what they deserve.”

“Other pay” for police officers can include longevity pay, educational incentives and extra money earned for working the graveyard shift, according to police Lt. Andre Hill.

Officers can earn overtime when a serious crime occurs and extra manpower is needed or during public events such as one of the city’s street festivals.

“Homicide is one of the few crimes that we can exhaust all possibilities,” Hill said.

But special events also cost a pretty penny. Richmond plays host to many ethnic events throughout the year, a policy that is popular within the community. But the lively events and big crowds require police, and they get paid extra to be there.

On the final day of the annual Cinco de Mayo festival as many as 30 officers may be needed to staff the event, according to Hill. Many are paid overtime wages. The event attracts about 10,000 people.

Most of the high salaries and overtime pay goes out to other cities, where the officers and firefighters live. About 10 officers out of 190 live in the city, according to Hill.

In an effort to boost the local tax base and economy some cities across the country have considered residency requirements for police and fire.

“Richmond has a lot of crime problems that are not the fault of the police,” Walker said. But “police use that to get a more favorable pay and then they take the money and leave. That’s not a great way to do community policing. “

And despite the high salaries of some city workers, economists argue an even greater problem underlies the disparity.

Over the last 30 years, wages for most private sector workers have been stagnant. About a third of Bay Area workers earn minimum wage.

“Public workers seem to be so disproportionately well paid (in part) because everyone else is so badly paid,” Walker said.

With the city facing a $7 million deficit and a growing gap in wages, questions are being raised about the discrepancy in pay scale among the city workers.

“It’s time for (public safety unions) to step up and take pay cuts,” newly-elected councilman Eduardo Martinez said.

Police and fire pensions contribute to the city’s deficit Martinez said.

And economists agree.

“A lot of these retirement obligations on local city governments have spiraled out of control,“ Walker said.

But any effort to cut police or firefighter salaries and pensions will likely be met by stout opposition from their unions.

“These tend to be the most favored workers other than top administrators in every local government,” Walker said. “They generate a lot of public support because there is a lot of panic about crime and fires.”

18 Comments

  1. jeff ritterman on December 6, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Did past city councilmembers with strong ties to the police and fire unions cause this mess by “gifting” police and fire large salary, pension and benefits increases in return for political and election-time support? Could Rich Confidential probe a bit further and get to the bottom of this scandal which threatens to bankrupt the city.



    • Reality Check on December 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Why don’t you hand the Richmond Confidential a photograph Jeff. You were a councilman for those contracts.

      From an Richmond Confidential article in 2012,

      “The 2010 Chevron agreement was a sellout. Ritterman forgot to mention that the agreement included a clause that stated the city of Richmond shall not levy any new tax on Chevron for 15 years. It went on to say that any future tax levied on Chevron by the residents of Richmond during the fifteen year agreement would be subtracted from the one hundred and fourteen million dollars.

      This sellout was followed by a proposal for a regressive sales tax cosponsored by Ritterman and endorsed by the RPA. The tax was Measure D which the residents voted down in June of 2011. This was followed by another proposed regressive tax authored by Ritterman and endorsed by the RPA. The tax was Measure N which was voted down by a two third majority
      .
      Richmond residents will never know just how much Ritterman influenced the decision to bring Lawrence Berkeley Lab to Richmond but it is clear he will accept full credit for it.

      Councilmember Ritterman has brought nothing progressive to Richmond. Watch what the next fiscal budget will look like in July 2013.”



  2. Frank Castle on December 6, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Wow… what a lovely and biased article against the police and fire unions (public safety).

    First of all, Richard Walker is a well known Marxist at UC Berkeley. So I am not surprised that he is anti public safety and especially anti police. There is no depth in this article or history, just a giant rant.

    The unions “have been very militant in supporting their own interest, often against the general communities interest and the interest of budgetary sanity,” Walker said. “It undermines the argument for good public salaries when some groups of management, police and fire, are getting exorbitant salaries that are out of proportion for what they deserve.”

    Well thanks Richard, and thank you again for omitting the fact that YOU are a union board member and advocate for the same issues pertaining to faculty at UC Berkeley. But I guess if we aren’t pushing a leftist view point at a university, but instead running towards incessant gunfire and structure fires we are somehow less deserving of a good salary….

    “Richmond has a lot of crime problems that are not the fault of the police,” Walker said. But “police use that to get a more favorable pay and then they take the money and leave. That’s not a great way to do community policing. “

    But the citizens want and outright demand protection and civility at Richmond’s many ethnic events (as mentioned by this article). So Richard, you’re saying that’s not a great way to conduct community policing???

    “Take the money and leave,” completely biased statement by Prof. Walker and here is why. First of all,
    for the longest time. The Richmond Police and Fire Departments were woefully understaffed. Consequently, the city was crime ridden (it is better but has a long way to go) and responses to fire/medical emergencies were atrocious. Increased pay and benefits are finally on par with other cities in the bay area (aka job market) and OMG, that’s right, better quality public employees who stay and care. Wow what a concept. In conjunction both the aforementioned municipal problems drop. What a coincidence.

    “It’s time for (public safety unions) to step up and take pay cuts,” newly-elected councilman Eduardo Martinez said.
    Police and fire pensions contribute to the city’s deficit Martinez said.
    And economists agree.
    Interesting how RPA newly-elected councilman Eduardo Martinez ran with other RPA members on a slate of “RICHMOND IS BETTER NOW” of course referring to crime in the city and it’s improvements. Now that the politicians (Martinez and other RPA members) have taken credit for what the police have done, it’s time for pay cuts. Stay classy Eduardo Martinez.
    “A lot of these retirement obligations on local city governments have spiraled out of control,“ Walker said.
    You’re right Prof. Walker, because many cities took pension holidays and didn’t pay WHAT THEY OWED regarding their obligations. But don’t bother explaining anything with facts….

    But any effort to cut police or firefighter salaries and pensions will likely be met by stout opposition from their unions.
    “These tend to be the most favored workers other than top administrators in every local government,” Walker said. “They generate a lot of public support because there is a lot of panic about crime and fires.”
    Generally they receive support because unlike politicians and angry tenured leftist professors at the University of California, they have a skill that yields tangible results.

    Here is the kicker about money and public safety being connected to the city they serve. First of all, they spend most of their adult lives in the city they work in. Everyone misses that important point. Which means time away from families and spent assisting the citizens they work for. Secondly, overtime is not $$ that is just gifted to people, it is EARNED through sacrifice of time. Which means yeah, you can make extra money, but your time with your family and loved ones is decreased significantly!!

    Additionally, some overtime is forced, either literally or because in order to have career progression one must work extra hours on projects, events etc.

    Again, the whole picture is often not in view, and not in context.



    • Richard Poe on December 7, 2014 at 5:11 am

      The city of Richmond needs to pay on par with other city for police and fire , and in California you will find Richmond is that that unusual in terms of pay. Remembering Richmond has a heavy industrial base which adds extra requirements for fire fighters . There is a problem throughout the state of unfunded pension liabilities . If your looking at results , crime is down in our city based on good policing , and our fire department is well trained , in California that has a cost.
      The issue that needs more focus , is how can the city build a higher tax base ? It’s not by taking years to approve good developments . Emeryville is a good example of how to grow a city , take a look at their planning and building departments , hiring consulting firms to expedite good development has resulted in a higher tax base , and a lower number of city employees. That module is a great success in our own back yard. That module avoids for the most part high pay without results in planning and building , and you have consultants living in the real world which felt the great recession and were entrepreneurial to grow revenues through development or not have a job. Question during this recovery how did Richmond compare to Emeryville ?



  3. Richard Poe on December 6, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    To report correctly you need to look at the full inclusive pay as reported under the law, which includes total pay which includes benefits as an example the highest pay for last year was $ 508,892.66 the To a planning directors salary with benefits making over a quarter million a year , at $ 259,557. To put these salaries into prospect , the Governor of California Jerry Brown , made $ 173,480 in 2010 and it only jumped to $ 159,480 in 2012

    Employee Name Job Title Base Pay Overtime Pay Other Pay Benefits Total Pay Total Pay & Benefits Year Notes Agency
    BOBO, ANGEL Fire Captain $113,892.10 $279,105.38 $33,305.30 $82,589.88 $426,302.78 $508,892.66 2013 Richmond
    PALECHEK, MARC Fire Captain $103,160.34 $241,577.98 $22,418.29 $83,785.02 $367,156.61 $450,941.63 2013 Richmond
    LINDSAY, WILLIAM City Manager $270,571.92 $- $17,800.10 $123,600.14 $288,372.02 $411,972.16 2013 Richmond
    LINSTAD, DANIEL Fire Captain $99,787.51 $201,702.69 $22,418.29 $86,195.87 $323,908.49 $410,104.36 2013 Richmond
    MAYO, LINSY Fire Captain $113,801.92 $176,031.00 $29,193.61 $89,972.17 $319,026.53 $408,998.70 2013 Richmond
    TURNER, MERLIN Battalion Chief $135,434.36 $115,144.35 $38,539.53 $99,941.82 $289,118.24 $389,060.06 2013 Richmond
    WADE, JOHN Fire Captain $113,478.09 $18,231.22 $167,219.14 $86,738.56 $298,928.45 $385,667.01 2013 Richmond
    CISNEROS, MARK Fire Captain $113,892.10 $143,065.56 $22,418.29 $85,605.54 $279,375.95 $364,981.49 2013 Richmond
    MOULTON, MANLY Battalion Chief $135,328.45 $99,198.16 $30,172.18 $97,000.95 $264,698.79 $361,699.74 2013 Richmond
    JURADO, DWAYNE Fire Engineer $99,035.64 $162,232.58 $19,681.70 $77,825.46 $280,949.92 $358,775.38 2013 Richmond
    MAGNUS, CHRISTOPHER Police Chief $222,084.00 $- $22,573.28 $101,825.67 $244,657.28 $346,482.95 2013 Richmond



    • Richard Poe on December 6, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      Typo on the Governors salary , To run one of the largest economies in the world , our Governor Jerry Brown was paid $ 159, 480 in 2010 jumping to $ 173,480 in 2012 . Getting control of salaries and unfunded pension fund liabilities will be a huge challenge for the city for decades to come. Unfortunately Richmond is not alone . It will be interesting to see if Richmond can become a leader in this area and get control of salaries and be an example for the nation.



  4. Richard Poe on December 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    MITCHELL, RICHARD Planning Director $175,627.92 $- $10,127.02 $73,802.68 $185,754.94 $259,557.62 2013 Richmond



  5. Giorgio Cosentino on December 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Kind of shocking that the average teacher salary at Richmond High School last year was only $53,394.49. Their job includes stress, safety issues, and long hours.



    • Anthony Alan on December 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      Everyone knows what the job pays before they apply for it. If teachers wanted more money they would have taken other jobs that paid more.

      Besides, I never heard even one teacher say they took the job for the money!



      • Giorgio Cosentino on December 9, 2014 at 4:02 am

        The teacher turnover rate in Richmond is high. This means Richmond kids are often taught by the least experienced teachers. Would you take your car to a mechanic who received their certification yesterday? You are right that they don’t go into the teaching profession for the money, but at some point, money matters, especially when a teacher starts their own family.



        • Anthony Alan on December 9, 2014 at 11:14 am

          For years WCCUSD got the “left overs” from the recent education graduates. That’s a fact as not too many people want to come to districts like WCCUSD and Oakland.

          If they had the qualifications they would go to Acalanes,, Walnut Creek or other more “rich” school districts.

          That is the way it will always be.

          Finally, if teachers can’t live on the salaries they are making then why start a family when you can’t afford it?

          WCCUSD will never have the image or the money to pay the best teachers coming out of school.

          Period!



          • Giorgio Cosentino on December 9, 2014 at 9:34 pm

            My point was that when starting a family, Richmond teachers can leave for a better paying gig in a different district. They have choices. The point I am making is that Richmond City employees are doing pretty darn good compared to Richmond teachers. Has the City of Richmond ever kicked in a few bucks for those Richmond teachers near the bottom of the pay scale for purpose of retaining teachers?



    • Anthony Alan on December 10, 2014 at 11:05 am

      So what about the teachers in El Cerrito, San Pablo and Pinole? Should the City of Richmond “kick in” to help lift their pay also?

      School budgets are paid by the state, with additional funding by property tax bonds and lottery money.

      City funding is from property and sale taxes mainly. Do you really think Richmond has extra money to kick in to the school district?

      Again, all teachers know what the pay rate is when they take the job. If they wanted more money they could have chosen a different career.



      • Giorgio Cosentino on December 10, 2014 at 8:34 pm

        That’s exactly the problem–they are doing just like you say they should–that they put in their time in Richmond, then go elsewhere. Of course Richmond should not offer a Recruitment and Retention bonus to other cities. This is about Richmond. Richmond pays their city employees more than the State of California pays theirs. The City of Richmond pays a very good salary to City employees. Why not throw something to the teachers in Richmond? Richmond parents should be very concerned about the consequences of the revolving door. In one Richmond school, the average teacher salary was $45,000, meaning even less experienced teachers (more turnover), while in Hercules (same district), the teachers at Hanna Ranch averaged $63,000.00 yearly. For the most part (except for the dead wood), you get what you pay for. Experience does matter.



        • Anthony Alan on December 11, 2014 at 8:08 am

          1) Teachers are not Richmond workers, they are WCCUSD employees all working under the same union contract. So, if Hercules teachers are making more it is because they have more seniority, have additional certifications or are at a higher pay level on the contract.

          But if the contract is unbalanced and unfair, fix it.

          2) The Richmond City employees have a base salary similar to most other cities in the area. What people are all upset is over the few that work lots of over time and double or triple their pay.

          So, if you don’t like their HUGE pay checks these employees are getting, then the City can cut their department budgets and we can forgo the services that they provide above and beyond their normal 40 hour work week.

          Now I will say something very un popular and politically incorrect. There has been a saying going around for years and I am sure you have heard it.

          “Those that can, do. Those that can’t teach” In other words in general, teachers are those graduates that could not find work elsewhere.

          Now I DO NOT believe that is the case for everyone. I had some very excellent teachers. The best ones were those that taught us how to think. Not what to think!



          • Giorgio Cosentino on December 12, 2014 at 5:26 am

            As for “excellent” teachers, just tell me if the teacher can or cannot do their job. Are they competent? Next, let’s get society on board with raising children in a manner that is conducive to successful learning. When almost no parents show up to Math Night, I have to wonder how committed some of our parents really are to helping their child succeed. A teacher is not a substitute for good parenting. It’s always easier to blame the teacher.



  6. John Spartan on December 9, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Ritterman and Martinez how about you grab a hose and try putting out a structure fire…then tell me they make too much money!!!



  7. google on December 9, 2014 at 9:03 am

    My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web address and thought I might as well check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to
    finding out about your web page again.



Card image cap
logo
Richmond Confidential

Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

Please send news tips to richconstaff@gmail.com.

Latest Posts