Take a look at the top paid city and county officials, as shown by figures recently released by the California State Controller's Office, and you will find an interesting pattern. The people who are at the top of each government's organization chart are not necessarily the highest paid.
The capital region's highest paid county or city official in 2013, for instance, was a captain in the Placer County Sheriff's Office. The captain made $122,000 in regular pay but received additional income bringing his or her total wages that year to $355,538.
The additional income came in the form of a lump-sum payment, a one-time cash payout for something like excess vacation and sick time, and other pay such as car allowances.
And so it goes for many of the top paid city and county employees, many of whom also get substantial overtime pay. Nearly half of the top 1,000 paid local officials added 50 percent to their regular pay through overtime, lump-sum payments and other pay.
Source: State Controller's Office. Note: The Controller's Office has not yet released data on special districts and employees of special districts like Sacramento Metropolitan Fire are not shown above.