September 17th, 2010, 3:00 am · posted by Teri Sforza, Register staff writer

Only 19 of California’s 400+ cities reported paying their city managers more than $300,000 a year – and two Orange County cities are among them.

They are little San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Hills, whose generous pay has been debated in this space, and in Laguna Hills city council candidate Barbara Stir-the-Pot Kogerman’s controversial city manager compensation survey (Kogerman amended report).

San Juan Cap comes in at No. 8 statewide on this new list, and Laguna Hills at No. 10. Officials in both cities maintain that the executives are paid what they are worth.

This particular salary compensation study – done by the League of California Cities, which is essentially a lobbying group of, by and for the cities – asked the Golden State’s 468 municipalities to report to the public what they report to Uncle Sam on tax returns. Ninty percent responded.

The folks making more than $300,000t should consider themselves in the sights of Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has sued the top brass in the city of Bell, where former city manager (and Huntington Beach resident) Robert Rizzo was raking in $800,000+ (and allegedly going to some lengths to hide it, to boot).

Brown is widening this Bell-inspired probe of public salaries and benefits to focus on “the many local and other government agencies that are paying annual salaries in excess of $300,000 and on the dozens of public pensioners who are receiving annual pensions in excess of $200,000,” the AG/would-be governor said at a press conference this week.

That would include the industrial city of Vernon, population 100, where city officials’ pay has reached as high at $785,000 and $1.6 million in a single year.

The League of Cities asked its members to report what was in “Box 5″ of their federal W-2 forms for 2009 for this survey. “Although not perfect, this is a uniformly available compensation figure that includes salary and a variety of fringe benefits (e.g., car allowance, deferred compensation, payouts of unused leave, life insurance greater than $50,000, etc.),” the League says.

These numbers do not, however, include health insurance costs, or employer payments to retirement programs – things Kogerman included in her totals, and which some let-the-sun-shine-in types are embracing as a better measure of true compensation. All that, the League tells us, will be collected in an upcoming report from the State Controller. We’re looking forward to that one!

So, here are the top-paid city managers (after Bell’s and Vernon’s, of course):

* Moreno Valley, population 188,537, Robert G. Gutierrez, $459,468
* Beverly Hills, population 33,748, Roderick Wood, $438,571
* Palmdale, population 152,622, Stephen H. Williams, $367,518
* San Ramon, population 64,860, Herbert Moniz, $359,669
* Roseville, population 112,343, W. Craig Robinson, $353,000
* Temecula, population 105,000, Shawn Nelson, $336,288
* Covina, population 49,622, Daryl Parrish, $328,830
* San Juan Capistrano, population 36,000, Joe Tait, $324,000 (contract employee – no benefits)
* Rancho Cucamonga, population 178,904, Jack Lam, $324,582
* Laguna Hills, population 33,593, Bruce Channing, $321,550
* Fontana, population 190,356, Ken Hunt, $318,497
* Santa Monica, population 92,703, P. Lamont Ewell/Rodney S. Gould, $317,000
* Mill Valley, population14,144, Anne Montgomery, $315,531
* Oxnard, population 200,204, Edmund F Sotelo, $314,135
* Danville, population 42,629, Joseph Calabrigo, $310,02
* West Hollywood, population 37,580, Paul Arevalo, $309,203
* Santa Clara, population 118,830, Jennifer Sparacino, $303,513
* Livermore, population 84,409, Linda Barton, $302,472 12
* Sunnyvale, population 140,000 Gary Luebbers, $301,470

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