California releases eye-opening salary database for all cities and counties

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The controller’s office in Sacramento has just released a database of the annual pay and benefits of all employees of cities and counties throughout the state of California.

The specific employee names have been removed for purposes of confidentiality, although the job titles of each position is listed. The complete list can be found here.

When compiling the list, the controller counted total 2009 wages as the amount reported to the federal government for Medicare tax purposes. That total includes bonuses, overtime, deferred compensation, and paid-in-cash sick leave and vacation days.

There is also a column called “applicable defined benefit pension formula”, that shows two numbers separated by a “@” symbol. The first figure is a percentage of their final annual pay that they receive when they retire, and the second figure is the age at which they can retire.

For example, most public safety officials show the code, 3@50. This simply means that they can retire at 50 and receive a pension equal to 3 times the number of years of service. If such an employee retired at age 50, with 30 years of service, they would receive retirement pay equal to 90 percent of their final year’s salary.

Some of the figures are eye opening. Burbank shows that one its firefighters earned $165,347, a library director earned $156,193 and an electrician $118,243.

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