Adelanto city manager, Hesperia Council highest paid locally

Posted Dec. 20, 2014 @ 8:39 pm
Updated Dec 20, 2014 at 8:59 PM

In general, city managers top the pay scale among city employees, and a report released this week by outgoing state Controller John Chiang indicates that the top brass in and around the Victor Valley and Barstow regions are not an exception to this trend.

But the salaries of the city managers here are also nowhere near the top five in the state or the exorbitant salary of Robert Rizzo, the former Bell city administrator who only a few years ago earned wages of $800,000 and a salary and benefits package of $1.5 million.

Rizzo was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the corruption in April, and it was the Bell scandal, exposing the ludicrous pay for officials in the blue-collar city, that spurred Chiang to provide the public with a broader picture of public compensation.

The latest update Monday to Chiang’s database included 2013 city and county data, and wages for 455 cities and 53 counties. The posted figures included full- and part-time positions. Contract positions were not included.

“California must not only restore public confidence that their governments are responsive and accountable, but provide the necessary information and tools to empower citizen participation in civic decision-making,” Chiang said in a statement.

The site,, had registered more than 8 million page views online as of last week. The data included in Chiang’s database are based on unaudited filings collected from local and state governments, and the Controller’s office claims they are not responsible for its accuracy.

The latest data show that last year Adelanto’s Jim Hart was the highest-paid city manager in the area earning total wages of $280,039.

The wages include $216,300 in regular pay, a lump sum of $46,594, and $17,146 in “other pay.” Adding $50,105 for retirement and health care, Hart’s compensation package totaled more than $330,000.

Hart explained Friday that his regular pay has been the same since 2012, and the one-time lump sum included sick leave and vacation payout.

He said that city employees are allowed to sell back unused sick leave and vacation time to lessen the city’s long-term liability.

“The reason this limits the City’s long-term liability is that if I earn the time at $15.00/hr I sell it back at the same rate,” Hart said in an email. (The hourly figure he used in the example is far lower than he receives.) “But if I allow for a long-time accumulation and then sell it when I leave the city, I sell it back at my existing rate of pay, which would be higher, (thus) creating a liability.”

He said the lump sum included an $11,000 advance on deferred compensation he received in 2010 that will be repaid to the city by June and then no longer reflected in his compensation.

He also said he does not have use of a city vehicle and employees do not receive bonuses. Both events, along with stipends, are provided by Chiang as possible explanations for “other pay.”

In Adelanto, population of 32,511, the average wage last year for the city’s 72 employees was $43,267 and the average retirement and health cost was $9,434, the data showed.

Based solely on total wages, which Chiang uses to list the top five highest-paid city managers in California, Hart (28), Hesperia City Manager Mike Podegracz (88) and Victorville City Manager Doug Robertson (92) crack the top 100 in the state for their position.

The highest-paid city manager in the state last year was in Moreno Valley and earned $439,976 in total wages.

If the city manager list were to be based on just regular pay, Robertson would be the highest-paid at the position locally. Expanded to account for salary and benefits packages, Hart is again the most handsomely rewarded.

Meanwhile, Podegracz was the second-highest paid city manager last year in the High Desert, according to the data, with $235,945 in total wages last year. Earnings included $207,384 in regular pay, a $14,161 lump sum and $14,400 in “other pay.”

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