E-mails detailing the salaries of Lafayette city employees that circulated last week appear to have had the desired effect. At last night’s City Council meeting, many who got up to state their opposition to charter city and transfer tax ballot measures also slammed the city for what they felt was exorbitant compensation for city employees.
Many came armed with data available on the Contra Costa Times website here showing salary information for may Bay Area public agencies. They seized particularly on one number: $250,026.
That’s the figure reported by the city of Lafayette for City Manager Steven Falk’s base salary. A couple speakers, for comparison, pointed to Orinda, where City Manager Janet Keeter’s base salary in 2009 was $174,225; Moraga, where outgoing Town Manager Mike Segrest’s base salary was about $180,000 (based on his contract — since he was hired in March, his base salary as reported in our database is less); and Oakland, where City Administrator Daniel Lindheim made a base of $216,621.
However, it looks like a miscommunication may have led to misleading Lafayette city salary numbers. If you take a look at Lafayette’s salary information, you’ll notice every employee earned exactly $0 in “other” compensation in 2009.
Bay Area News Group asked cities to lump all compensation (like auto or uniform allowance) that was not base salary or overtime into the “other” category. But a Lafayette official told me today they thought they were being asked to lump all salary together. And since BANG wanted calendar year information, they went to the city’s W-2 records and reported to us the total taxable income for each employee in 2009. For Falk, that was $250,026.
For fiscal year (not calendar year) 2008-09, Falk’s base salary was actually $209,345. That certainly is higher than his Lamorinda colleagues, although it’s worth pointing out that could be affected by his longer tenure. Falk has been Lafayette’s city manager since 1996. Keeter was hired in 2005, Segrest in 2009.
Including his retirement benefits, auto allowance, the city’s annual 5 percent transfer of equity in his house and some sold-back vacation, Falk’s total compensation was $288,787.74.
It’s likely base salary figures for other Lafayette employees were similarly “inflated.” We’re working on getting the database updated to reflect more accurate numbers. Whether or not Lafayette employees (or employees of any other public agency, for that matter) are fairly compensated is certainly a valid point of debate; we want to make sure we’re getting the right information out there when that debate takes place.