News

Raises help fuel $11.8M jump in payroll at City Hall

Salary hikes, additional pay period drive higher expenses for employee compensation in Palo Alto

Despite fewer permanent positions in City Hall, Palo Alto's payroll went up by $11.8 million last year, an increase that officials attribute to a combination of salary increases and a calendar oddity that created an additional pay period in 2015.

The calendar anomaly occurs every 11 years at organizations that use a two-week schedule. According to David Ramberg, assistant director of Administrative Services Department, a typical year has 26 pay periods; last year had 27. This occurs because 26 two-week periods account for 364 days and the "unaccounted" days ultimately add up to a pay period every decade or so. Ramberg noted that next year there will be a compensation decrease because the city will drop back to 26 pay periods.

According to Ramberg, the calendar accounts for about $6 million of additional expenses. The remaining $5.8 million is a result of salary raises that were approved in 2015 and a related rise in benefit expenses. The rising costs come despite a decrease in the number of employees on the city's payroll. The head count of city employees (which includes temporary employees) dipped from 1,584 in 2014 to 1,561 in 2016.

The numbers reflect the raises that the council approved last year as part of efforts to keep up with the area's growing cost of living and to bring salaries up to the market median level.

In 2014, the City Council approved salary raises of 4.5 percent for the city's largest labor union, the Services Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 521, and for roughly 200 employees in the managers and professionals group. The raises were spread out over two years. In both groups, many workers received additional raises to make them more aligned with similar positions in other jurisdictions.

The trend continued this year, with the council last month approving new contracts for the SEIU and the city's two largest public-safety unions: the Palo Alto Peace Officers Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1313. Under the new terms, employees in all three labor groups will receive 7.5 percent raises spread out over three years in addition to salary bumps based on marked adjustments.

The numbers from 2015 also show that nearly 1/3 of all workers -- and close to a half of all full-time workers -- now earn at least $100,000. The total number of employees in this category was 494 last year, up from 440 in 2014, 408 in 2013 and 372 in 2012. And 23 employees last year made more than $200,000, compared to 19 in 2014. By contrast, the number of employees who make less than $100,000 dropped by 81 between 2014 and 2015, from 1,125 to 1,044.

Much like in the prior few years, the city's top earners are department heads. City Manager James Keene led the list with $307,358 in total compensation (which includes benefits), followed by City Attorney Molly Stump ($272,214), recently retired Utilities Director Valerie Fong ($257,412) and Chief Financial Officer Lalo Perez ($256,822). Police Sgt. Adrienne Moore was fifth on the list, with a total salary of $254,938, which includes $108,218 in overtime.

Rounding out the top 10 earners are Police Chief Dennis Burns ($243,390), Assistant Police Chief Robert Beacom ($242,333), former Human Resources Director Kathryn Shen ($240,542), Public Works Director James Sartor ($226,612) and Planning Director Hillary Gitelman ($226,002).

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Comments

14 people like this
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2016 at 8:45 am

So much for underpaid city employees. They are well paid. Palo Alto is not a large city. It is bureaucratic, however.


8 people like this
Posted by Take a moment
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2016 at 11:29 am

The salaries reported, particularly of the senior staff, should give every tax-paying resident pause. Just what kind of representation are we getting in return?


9 people like this
Posted by Juan olive
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Wholly Mother of Pearl.
I want some.
What a Racket.
Palo Alto will be out of money tomorrow.
It was the 1%... Now it's 2%
[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Juan olive
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Wholly Mother of Pearl.
I want some.
What a Racket.
Palo Alto will be out of money tomorrow.
It was the 1%... Now it's 2%
What do these people do all day to deserve such amounts? I'll do what ever they do for 1/4 the amount. My number is (650)328-4329. And if I can't I'll either eat my hat or learn in one week.


6 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2016 at 2:04 pm

WOW! All I can say, is we the retired are left out in the cold! No raise with Social Security or Cal Pers and most other retirement plans. The hole we had dug for ourselves keeps getting deeper. Had we still been employed, we to would benefit from the 4% or so that our replacements get.

I know, we will be dead soon and nobody will listen to us because we really will go away, soon. But there are some of us who are too stubborn to die, and we will be faced with living under bridges or behind hedges because we can't afford the rent.

Thank you politicians!


Like this comment
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2016 at 2:05 pm

WOW! All I can say, is we the retired are left out in the cold! No raise with Social Security or Cal Pers and most other retirement plans. The hole we had dug for ourselves keeps getting deeper. Had we still been employed, we to would benefit from the 4% or so that our replacements get.

I know, we will be dead soon and nobody will listen to us because we really will go away, soon. But there are some of us who are too stubborn to die, and we will be faced with living under bridges or behind hedges because we can't afford the rent.

Thank you politicians!


Like this comment
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2016 at 2:05 pm

WOW! All I can say, is we the retired are left out in the cold! No raise with Social Security or Cal Pers and most other retirement plans. The hole we had dug for ourselves keeps getting deeper. Had we still been employed, we to would benefit from the 4% or so that our replacements get.

I know, we will be dead soon and nobody will listen to us because we really will go away, soon. But there are some of us who are too stubborn to die, and we will be faced with living under bridges or behind hedges because we can't afford the rent.

Thank you politicians!


Like this comment
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2016 at 2:05 pm

WOW! All I can say, is we the retired are left out in the cold! No raise with Social Security or Cal Pers and most other retirement plans. The hole we had dug for ourselves keeps getting deeper. Had we still been employed, we to would benefit from the 4% or so that our replacements get.

I know, we will be dead soon and nobody will listen to us because we really will go away, soon. But there are some of us who are too stubborn to die, and we will be faced with living under bridges or behind hedges because we can't afford the rent.

Thank you politicians!


2 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2016 at 2:32 pm

This applies to Palo Alto, as well as to all other cities in California, and probably the cities in all of the USA.

Thanks from the fixed income recipients. Social Security recipients received exactly $0.00 , or 0% increase, as did CalPers recipients, this year. We go deeper into the hole, and the politicians get richer and richer, at our expense. Most retirees get no increases annually, and when we do,it is on the order of $5.00 to $25.00 per month, shear tokenism.

That is OK, because most of us will die soon, and you no longer have to worry about us eating dog or cat food, just to stay alive. We do not debate with ourselves whether we should get a new car this year, or do the remodelling of the kitchen, or . . . We don't have those kinds of headaches.

I know it is the politicians doing this to us, and the politicians I refer to are not just the people who hold political office. It includes the people who crawled.up other people's backs to put them down and take away jobs from truly qualified people, when they themselves are definitely not qualified and will fail to do the job, and the truely qualified will have to pull them out of the fire. You either do know who you are or are totally oblivious to reality.


2 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2016 at 3:31 pm

I have tried to post here two times today. Apparently my posting attempts are not welcome. They apply not only to Palo Alto, but to the whole nation.

It concerns salary/wage/pension increases.

We, who are on fixed incomes, keep getting put into the back of the bus, so to speak, because fixed incomes seldom get increases and when we/they do, they fit into the extremely meager category. Especially when they are like 1% or so. Translated into monthly increases that can be as little as $5.00 all the way to $25.00 per month, WOW! It is really exciting isn't it!

Dog and Cat food really doesn't taste too bad, but when you have to face down a Pit Bull, or Doberman, or a Siamese cat, you need to just let your stomach growl. Some times you may get shot at while eating out of the doggie or kitty bowl. Not reality, but it is close. When we become the majority, then you will have to worry about feeding and housing us!!!

I honestly keep forgetting that we are sort of like the unmentionable people in India. If nobody says anything, then we are always overlooked. I am saying something, WE NEED to get a reasonable increase, at least matching the raises that the $15.00 per hour people get. We are already priced out of the housing market, and soon we will be priced out of the food market.

I know, we will die soon, so the haves don't need to pay attention to us.

SORRY for bothering you!

,


2 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 30, 2016 at 7:08 am

I wish those of use who are not City employees or top execs could join in the City largess to its employees.
The US economy as a whole is growing, if it is at all, at a much slower pace than that of City salaries. If one is retired there were none of the expected raises this year--SS 0% or not even a penny, PERS 0% again, companies, well those are fixed forever with no increase ever.
Hello, Mr Keen. How about cutting us the residents of Palo Alto without whom you would not have a job into that fancy huge pie you cut into ever larger pieces. If not, perhaps you can at least teach City Public Works people to say something other than "Oops" when they are digging into your street.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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