There are rumors flying around that City Hall’s top executives are giving themselves increases at a time of fiscal uncertainty.
According to allegations, the interim police chief has received a 40 percent increase in salary and benefits while the city manager has increased compensation by 23 percent.
But an analysis by Petaluma Patch of salary and benefits data from both the city and the state controller’s office show that this is simply not true.
What is true is that at $208,000 a year, City Manager John Brown is the highest paid public sector employee in Petaluma. But since being hired in 2008, his salary has not increased, although the city is today paying more for his and other employees’ pensions and health care.
That’s due to a lower rate of return from CalPERS, the state’s public pension system and rising health care costs, something all cities are grappling with.
Interim Police Chief Danny Fish is the second highest paid employee in the city, receiving $182,000 last year. However, because Fish is a public safety employee, his retirement is calculated using a different formula. It also means the city is paying more into his retirement account each year compared to employees of other sectors.
According to records provided by the city’s Finance Department, last year the city spent $56,000 toward Chief Fish’s retirement package, but only $25,000 toward Brown’s.
And as for raises, the only time Fish received a pay bump was when he was promoted from captain to interim police chief in 2009. His salary increased by 6.6 percent.
Other top-tiered city executives include Fire Chief Larry Anderson who took home $151,000 last year. On top of that, the city paid $46,000 last year toward Anderson’s pension and nearly $19,000 in health benefits. Meanwhile, Assistant City Manager Scott Brodhun, who is in charge of parks and recreation, is paid $142,000 a year, with the city paying $17,000 last year toward his retirement benefits.
Please note that 2011 salary and benefits information has not yet been posted by the state controller's office and was provided to Petaluma Patch by special request by the city’s Finance Department. (Thank you Bill Mushallo!)