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Sacramento’s city payroll jumped $35M in one year, data show. See who made the most

Eight of the city of Sacramento’s top 10 highest-paid employees in 2018 were in the Fire Department, according to state data.
Eight of the city of Sacramento’s top 10 highest-paid employees in 2018 were in the Fire Department, according to state data. Sacramento Bee file

Sacramento’s city payroll jumped about $35 million from 2017 to 2018, hitting about $347 million, according to new data from the California State Controller’s Office.

The 11.2 percent jump in wages — which includes regular pay, overtime, bonuses and cash payouts for unused days off — was higher than usual. In the previous three years, city payroll jumped between $11 million and $14 million each year.

From 2017 to 2018, the city had fewer employees but paid about $30 million more in regular pay, from $270 million to nearly $300 million, according to the report. The city also paid an extra $8 million in overtime pay, from about $30 million to $38 million.

“The City of Sacramento always strives to operate as efficiently as possible,” city spokesman Tim Swanson said in a statement. “While the City had fewer employees in 2018 than it did in 2017, it had more full-time equivalents, which increased total wages that year. In addition, employee promotions and union-negotiated salary increases added to total wages in 2018. Overtime pay also was a factor.”

Where do minimum wage workers get paid the most? How California fits in as it raises its minimum wage to $15 per hour.

City pension costs are about to rise sharply, but between 2017 and 2018, pension costs dropped from about $5.5 million to $5.4 million, according to the state data.

Eight of the top 10 highest-paid employees in 2018 were in the Fire Department, according to the state data.

One of the city’s 11 fire battalion chiefs was the highest paid employee in the city in 2018, with total wages hitting $321,745 – higher than City Manager Howard Chan’s $305,510.

A fire battalion chief also occupied the third spot, at $282,415.

The average base salary for fire battalion chiefs in 2018 was 144,000, according to city data.

In 2017, the highest paid employee was a fire captain, with $272,702 in total wages, the report said. The second highest paid was the city manager, with $272,339.

Here are the city employees who made the most in 2018, according to the report:

1. Fire Battalion Chief - $321,745

2. City Manager - $305,510

3. Fire Battalion Chief - Emergency Medical Response: $282,415

4. Fire Engineer - $282,381

5. Fire Captain - $280,695

6. Firefighter - $268,142

7. Fire Captain - $264,241

8. Assistant City Manager - $255,713

9. Fire Captain - $245,922

10. Fire Captain - $240,110

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.
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