Public compensation data published Monday by the state Controller's Office indicate that being the head of a Riverside County agency didn't always mean being the highest-paid in 2012.
Controller John Chiang released public salary and benefits figures for last year, providing information on who's making what in city and county governments throughout the state. The data, which draw distinctions between salary, health and retirement costs, can be viewed at http://www.publicpay.ca.gov.
"Making compensation of public employees transparent provides taxpayers with the ability to be more informed and active in local government decisions," Chiang said. "I'm especially encouraged with the cooperation that cities and counties have provided in helping us make all government more accountable to Californians."
Data from Riverside County pointed to fat paydays for some employees, both at the executive and lower levels. While county officials questioned how the state calculated the size of annual pay in some cases, the fact that workers in several agencies may have earned more than their bosses last year was not disputed.
Some of the most lopsided salary tables surfaced in the sheriff's department and the Department of Mental Health.
According to the controller's website, in 2012, six sheriff's lieutenants and two captains had earnings that exceeded the cumulative sum paid to Sheriff Stan Sniff, whose composite salary was $240,640.
Data showed that one captain had a base salary of $106,017 but was paid another $197,000 in "lump sum" amounts, possibly including compensation for unused vacation time and early retirement incentives.
In the Department of Mental Health, a senior staff psychiatrist received compensation totaling $470,273 last year -- the bulk of it from overtime, according to figures.
The chief of psychiatry earned $424,860, while four other doctors each received annual compensation that exceeded the director's base pay of $304,052.
On the executive ladder, the highest paid agency head last year was then- Public Defender Gary Windom, who was discharged on Nov. 7, 2012, as a result of workplace conflicts. Controller's Office data showed the veteran lawyer collecting just under $500,000, close to $180,000 of which appeared to be in the form of severance pay.
Riverside County supervisors' salaries were the more modest in comparative terms, ranging between $160,744 and $171,937. Supervisors earn base salaries of $143,031. However, the Controller's Office listed unclassified "other" forms of compensation that caused each board member's earnings to vary slightly.
"They combined a number of different things to come up with these figures, some of which might not reflect actual salary," county Executive Office public information officer Ray Smith told City News Service. "Without knowing for sure how they arrived at some of these numbers, I can't say what they are. There are some issues."
According to Jacob Roper of the Controller's Office, the "other" designation on the salary pages refers to vacation time payouts, severance pay, car benefit allowances, overtime comp, per diem payments connected with travel and other stipends.
"The Controller's Office stands by its website and figures obtained directly from local governments," Roper told CNS. "Local governments set their own parameters on compensation and benefits. Not everybody's the same."
Roper said the purpose is to offer a "good view of the cost to taxpayers for a public servant."
"We try to offer a broader picture of compensation across the board," Roper said.
—City News Service