Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 28, 2011

Dig a little deeper

Did anyone notice that the salary list compiled by City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy included compensation for elected officials as well?  No?   Yeah, me either.    I think once people got into normal salary range most people just stopped looking.

It wasn’t until a commenter on The Island mentioned the Council pay as listed in the new Bay Area News Group database.   Of course, there was also this story which mentioned that Medical/Dental/Vision benefits are a huge perk for part-time elected officials like ours.  Highlights:

Government compensation data acquired by the Bay Area News Group, which includes this newspaper, show that hundreds of part-time elected officials — and in many cases family members — received full-time health care benefits in 2010 courtesy of taxpayers, costing many cash-strapped agencies tens of thousands of dollars.

According to an annual survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in four private employers offers health benefits to part-time employees. But in local government, it’s a different story.

The article goes on to list photos of the top ten elected officials in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties who have received the highest amount of Medical/Dental/Vision coverage ranging from a high in Santa Clara $32K to the lowest of the top ten at $18K.   In San Mateo of the top ten, the highest was $24K and the bottom of the top ten list was $18K (well rounding it’s $19K).   So what does that mean in Alameda terms, well, here are the numbers for our City Council — minus Rob Bonta because these are 2010 numbers and he was elected in November of 2010 so Frank Mataresse’s compensation is listed (click to enlarge):

The number you are looking at to compare to the San Mateo and Santa Clara County comparables would be the column under MDV.  So it appears that Frank Matarrese’s compensation was right up there with the lowest of the top 10, of course how this compares to Alameda County numbers is unclear.   But everyone else is well below that top ten threshold.

Before anyone asks, the numbers for the School Board were not part of the database, but remember that a while ago the School Board voted to stop accepting the health benefit compensation and stipend —  I can’t recall if the School Board voted to begin receiving the compensation again, but I’m sure Mike McMahon will help fill in the details.   And before anyone asks, the Health Care district also hasn’t given up their numbers either, another article discussed how they asked for money to cover the staff time to run the information, but the Bay Area News Group doesn’t want to pay for the information.   But I did confirm that the Hospital Board members do not receive either a stipend or the health care compensation.   It is codified into their bylaws.

So, what was interesting was that when I searched for all the elected officials, it turns out that both our elected City Treasurer and City Auditor both receive more than just their monthly stipend according to the database:

Now, I do have a public record request out to the City Clerk’s office to confirm if this is what was simply offered to the Treasurer and Auditor or if this was actually an amount that was taken.  I have a few other outstanding questions too, so when I get the answers to that I’ll post an update.

So you maybe saying, Lauren, these amounts are a drop in the bucket compared to our other long term obligations and other financial problems and you are completely correct.   They are minimal in the grand scheme of things.   However, I think that if we — as a City — are going to ask our City leaders to ask City workers to renegotiate contracts and possibly cut contractual benefits in order to maintain fiscal solvency, then we need to ask our City leaders to revisit the types of compensation they receive as well.   I write this knowing full well that the job that the City Council, Treasurer, Auditor and all other elected officials is thankless and a great big pain in the ass.  But it’s symbolic much in the way that the School Board opted to give up their minimal health benefits and stipend in 2008 when they were asking the community to dig a little deeper in the form of a parcel tax, it’s time for our City government side to consider doing the same.


  1. Do these figures represent premiums or billed amounts of services?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 28, 2011 @ 6:32 am

  2. From what I understand they are insurance packages like one that you would select from your employer.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 28, 2011 @ 6:41 am

  3. Up until June, 2008, school board members had the option to sign up for medical coverage paid through the district. Medical coverage and board meeting stipends were stopped in July 2008.

    In April, 2009, the board reinstated stipends of $150 per board meetings up to a total of $300 a month, but they lowered the medical coverage to match what district teachers receive. The District makes a fixed contribution for medical coverage and the employees pays the rest of the premium. So any Board members who signs up for medical coverage would pay for the amount above the District contribution.

    For those interested in what the District contribution you will have to review the teacher contract for specifics. It is located here: (sroll down to the bottom)

    As a generalization, the District contributes around $500 a month for a teacher and up to $700 for family coverage. So depending on the carrier and type of coverage an employee chooses, they pay about $100 up to a $1000 a month for their medical coverage.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — April 28, 2011 @ 7:44 am

  4. Mike, is it possible to get a graph that shows teacher (et al) step level distribution throughout the disctrict?

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 28, 2011 @ 9:01 am

  5. Loren, I can’t open Kennedy’s salary list, but I’m told that these board/commission/ council positions are the only part time employees listed. The rest of the city’s part time employees are invisible and receive no benefits. When the cuts come, they surely will be cut first. What happens then? For instance, the library has about 74 public employees, only 17 are full time. Rec & Park is similar.

    Yes, we need to reduce our benefit packages, that’s a given, but we need to out our invisible workers. They aren’t costing extra, often hold responsible positions and will be the first to go.

    Comment by Li_ — April 28, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  6. Go to slide 16 of this presentation for a distribution of teacher salary ranges for 2007/08. It is the most current data I could locate. Not much has changed since then other then a reduction of about reduction of the total number of teachers due to increase in class size in grades K-3.:

    Click to access BOE052009SSC.pdf

    Comment by Mike McMahon — April 28, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  7. Could we get a complete breakdown on total compensation including all salary benefits and pensions for all employees of AUSD.

    Comment by John — April 28, 2011 @ 11:38 am

  8. Just like the one done all City employees.

    Comment by John — April 28, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  9. Thanks Mike. Quite revealing.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 28, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  10. Given that we do not pay more than a small per diem to our Mayor and City Council members these benefits may not be unreasonable at all. It IS good to know that our officials are receiving some benefit for the long hours they put in.

    There is a great deal of temptation for some officials (and I am not saying ours do) to take large contributions from developers or others with a vested interest….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 28, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

  11. The stipends look pretty reasonable to me. And if we had single payer, the rest would be moot. Sigh.

    Comment by Kristen — April 28, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

  12. That guy in the Sun today (in his letter to the editor) says we live in a country club here on this island.

    So in order to become a member of this country club we must require all citizen’s income and wealth as the fee for joining. No more of this constant sniping about stipends, pay or retirement. If you leave the island, you get the original amount you paid into it (minus administrative fees) no more. If a house burns down another is build from the kitty. If somebody gets sick and if Obama care doesn’t, than the club covers it.

    I’ve advocated for this method all along, “…the rest would be moot.”

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 28, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  13. Or, in other words…

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 28, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

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