10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cassie MacDuff

People are understandably upset at high salaries paid to city officials, while municipal workers are being laid off and the public is being told it will have to settle for reduced services.

But lucrative pay is only half the story. When you add in the benefits public officials receive, the taxpayers are getting hit for even more than many people realize.

Not to pick on Redlands, but it provided the most complete information of all the cities queried this week.

Police Chief Jim Bueermann will receive a salary of $224,486 this year, and the city will contribute $109,299 to his pension plan.

Add in his other benefits, and his employment will cost Redlands $369,273 — more than the city manager.

City Manager Enrique Martinez will collect $231,229 in salary, and the city will contribute $42,386 to his pension. Other benefits will bring the total to $327,352 this fiscal year.

Bueermann has worked for the city 32 years, Martinez less than four (hence the pension difference?).

Redlands is not alone in providing generous benefits.

Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson’s $294,525 annual salary is augmented by $123,390 in benefits. Assistant City Manager Tom DeSantis gets a $220,031 salary and $70,874 in benefits; Assistant City Manager Belinda Graham, $200,028 salary and $59,978 in benefits.

Police Chief Sergio Diaz’s $229,999 salary comes with $81,175 in benefits.

San Bernardino City Manager Charles McNeely makes $278,000 salary and $80,359 in benefits. The assistant city manager, $137,420 plus $47,835 in benefits, the police chief, $208,585 plus $63,062 in benefits.

Many cities’ officials, despite high salaries, get retirement pensions paid for entirely at public expense. They don’t contribute a penny. How many private-sector workers can say that?

Corona stopped fully subsidizing managers’ retirements on Jan. 1, 1999. Those hired since that date contribute 3 percent and the city contributes 5 percent of the 8 percent total.

Redlands pays the full 7 percent contribution to department heads’ pensions, 9 percent for the police chief’s.

Many public-sector workers also enjoy fully subsidized medical insurance. Most private-sector workers share the cost of premiums.

Redlands department heads also are eligible for lifetime medical coverage after 15 years’ service. Private-sector workers, jealous yet?

Public workers also enjoy generous holiday, vacation and sick leave. Top officials may get administrative leave, cars or car allowances and perks too many to list.

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