Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 22, 2012

Your numbers up

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

About the salaries and things, lots of numbers being thrown around, very little context. I mean, really now folks, is a military installation in Washington with half the population of Alameda really comparable in terms of salary?

One question that came up was in regard to area median income and median income of City employees. So first I decided to find out what the area median income was. A lot of my searches ended up with some fairly disparate results depending on the source. The census information was on the outdated side, so I decided to go with the Official State Income Limits numbers from the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Why? Because it was up to date, the HCD releases numbers every year. These numbers are based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development numbers and is used to define household income size for the purposes determining income levels for affordable housing purposes.   The full methodology can be found here.

And the numbers are here:

As you will notice, the area median income for a four person household is $93,500.   For a single person the area median income is $65,450.  From what I can tell, median income is not calculated by adding benefits and retirement costs.  If anyone knows differently let me know, but in order to establish an apples to apples comparison I will be using only totals from the Total Gross Earnings which adds extras like uniforms and acting pay, etc and Base Salary which aligns to the numbers that folks have been tossing around.

Let’s talk numbers from the database.

Department Median Base Salary Average Base Salary Median Earnings Average Earnings
City of Alameda $50,631 $48,624 $52,825 $55,986
AMP $70,695 $72,967 $74,578 $78,646
City Administration $68,590 $66,816 $74,027 $72,041
Community Development $69,438 $70,336 $69,651 $72,180
Development Services $64,531 $71,042 $73,631 $78,027
Fire $92,118 $75,999 $118,652 $98,421
Housing $51,909 $49,154 $53,193 $52,244
Library $15,158 $24,771 $15,158 $25,479
Police $72,696 $65,866 $83,866 $81,114
Public Works $62,225 $62,657 $65,323 $65,291
Rec & Park $3,412 $11,681 $3,412 $12,025

Some of the numbers are super dooper low because there are like a million people making less than $500 which pulls down the average/median.   I might revisit these numbers and eliminate anyone making less than $10K to get a better sense of the average/median by department.  But that’s another post for another day.



  1. Since California is probably using the same definition of income that the Census uses, you’re right, income, including median income, does not include retirement and health benefits set aside for the future. Per the Census, income is “money income” that persons actually get in a given time – some spend it, some save it. “Money income” comprises of (1) wages and salary; (2) business income [if any]; (3) social security income [for those person drawing on this right now]; (4) public assistance [for those person drawing on this right now]; (5) investment income in form of interest, dividends, and rental income [for those getting this right now]; (6) retirement income other than social security [for those person drawing on this now]; (7) supplementary security income [for those getting this]; and (8) catch-all “other”. If you google “census” “definition” “income”, you go to an interesting link from HUD, with whose definition of income Cal HCD has to be consistent with for various reasons. ( )

    Comment by Tony Daysog — May 22, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  2. This is where 95% percent of where the Money is going and doesn’t matter if it’s fulltime, partime , or what department or City Jock sniffer. Who Cares… If we have A whole Department where Total Compensation Average is Double their Salary…… I think we have serious problems.

    Spreadsheet from the city of top 555 employess that consume 95% of the employee costs.

    205 – Employees Total Compensation 150K – 400K

    OR around 37%

    149 – Employees Total Compensation 100K -150K

    Or Around 27%

    The Rest Breakdown as Follows

    60 – $90K – $99K
    65 – $80K – $89K
    47 – $70K – $79K
    16 – $60K – $69K
    12 – $50K – $59k

    About the salaries and things, lots of numbers being thrown around, very little context. I mean, really now folks, is a military installation in Washington with half the population of Alameda really comparable in terms of salary?”


    These are numbers from the federal payscale for firefighters and BLS. and Federal Government

    Our Average Salary’s just for Firefighters is around 90K which is 50% higher than regionally adjusted Average Salary’s and Double National Average. Total Compensations appears to be around Double their Salary…So if Fireman’s Salary is 95K his total compensation is around 190K…We had 37 Firefighters over 90K Salary in 2011………As you go up Fire pole Numbers are about the Same…With Fire Captains Salary at 118K and Total Compensation 236K. Where average Salaries for Captains ranged from $60,605 to $72,716.

    We have 34 – AFD Employees Total Compensation 200K – 267K

    We Have 35 – AFD Employees Total Compensation 172K – 199K

    We Have 15 – AFD Employees Total Compensation 100K – 172K

    How much do benefits cost employers? Something is way out of whack

    In the early 1990s, benefit costs as a percentage of total compensation costs increased from 28.2 percent in 1991 to 29.2 percent in 1994. After 1994, those costs steadily declined reaching a low of 27.4 percent in 2000 and 2001. Beginning in 2002 benefits costs increased again. By December 2010, benefit costs as a percentage of total compensation costs were 30.3 percent.

    Comment by John — May 22, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

  3. Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer Costs for Employee Compensation-Historical Listing March 2004-December 2010 Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, March 2011,

    Comment by John — May 22, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

  4. John: For the last time. You keep quoting Total Compensation for Alameda City Employees and comparing it with Average salary for Federal employees. That is not a like to like comparison.

    Benefits cost money. No one is disputing that. Instead of trying to compare salary to total compensation to prove whatever thesis you are trying to push, instead if you believe that benefit packages should be capped or reduced somehow, fine, just say that. I think it should be too. But attempting to mush arguments about being “overpaid” and using an entire compensation package to compare against a suggested salary schedule is disingenuous.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 22, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

  5. We have Tony Daysong chiming in who Voted for Huge Pay Increases for City Staff following the worst financial meltdown in our City State and Countrys history while millions being laid off and City Revenues tanking. We are in this position today as a City because of his vote and evaluations . Pass the smelling salt.

    Comment by John — May 22, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

  6. Lauren,

    By December 2010, benefit costs as a percentage of total compensation costs were 30.3 percent.

    What do you think ours Run?

    Comment by John — May 22, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  7. Plus we are paying 50% higher Salary…….Makes it a even uglier scenario.

    The lightweights that have handled the Past Labor Negotiations for the City are a Joke….People from the past that have sat thru these admit to it…….Amazing

    Comment by John — May 22, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  8. #5: Oooh . . . zinger again. Oh how my knees are shaking . . .

    The gotta-to-be-honest assessment is that, indeed, the 3% at fifty for public safety is simply not sustainable. I thought we could pull it off, for at the time I saw Alameda as a growing city economically because we understood the importance of moving progressively on the economic and social fronts (and hopefully I did what I could to that end), even as the overall nation was in a recession at the time. So, yes, I voted for extending 3% at fifty to fire fighters, after we first extended it only to and specifically for the Police earlier I think in the Spring.

    I’ll tell you something, too: thinking we could cover this, I knew that at the time I joined all my colleagues in extending the 3% at fifty to fire fighters, I did so gladly — yes, I did say gladly at the time — gladly because that was a decision made in the first meeting of October 2001, a time when we came to understand in ways that perhaps many have now forgotten how fire fighters and our police are the first to whom we turn in time of neighborhood and national distress.

    So, yeah, go ahead and throw your [expletive deleted] zingers all you want.

    But where we’re you when I made tough fiscal decisions like voting against the movie deal (as much as wanted to join my friends and neighbors and vote for it) because the rent was simply way too low — and the fact that the city recently contemplated adding a fee to the movie ticket as one measure to shore up its budget was, yes, belated confirmation that I made the right and tough fiscal choice. Where were you?

    Where were you when I was the first to warn as early as December 2003 that AP&T telcom revenues would simply not hit the target needed to re-finance in 2009, and made the tough decision to vote against the telcom refinance plan of Dec 2003?

    Where we you when I led the way in the face of massive opposition to get Bayport going, so as to create the underlying financial wherewithal to help pay for military base conversation infrastructure?

    Where were you on the night of October 2001 to say that the fire fighters weren’t deserving of getting the same 3% at fifty package that we earlier issued to the police? I have no qualms in saying that, sure, it’s not fiscally sustainable. That’s why I was happy to be a part of the Fiscal Sustainability Committee — so I will be a part of the solution.

    I dont know who you are but I think I know enough from the tone of your zinger that you think you can bully people, including me. Well, ain’t going to happen.

    note: comment reprised from:

    Comment by Tony Daysog — May 22, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  9. Federal firefighter makes 60K for this region SF OAK San Jose

    Using Federal standard of 30 Percent Benefits is 18K per year.

    That is equal to 78,000 total compensation and no overtime pay til at 72 hours per week.

    Alameda Firefighter averaging 190K Total compensation.

    Who is disingenuous in really giving accurate numbers and being Civil sort of speak.

    I think we have good Fire Department but think we have been led down a greased pole when it comes to what is fair and what we can afford.

    Comment by John — May 22, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  10. Tony I can’t say it any better than Jack Did.

    “…sure, it’s not fiscally sustainable. That’s why I was happy to be a part of the Fiscal Sustainability Committee — so I will be a part of the solution.”

    Is this whole thing a fucking joke?

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 10, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

    Comment by John — May 22, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  11. Tony, I appreciate you saying the retirement package of 3 percent at age 50 is unsustainable. If only more leaders, past and present, would also admit it was a mistake.

    Comment by Irene — May 22, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

  12. What good would that do? Make you feel better while the city’s going broke?

    Comment by Jack Richard — May 22, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  13. I will Vote for Measure C if the Firefighters agree to the same wages as Federal Firefighters….Probably would have saved us over 100 Million in last 10 Years alone…That would be the Leap of Faith I would go with that Kevin Kearney was asking us to do.

    Comment by John — May 22, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

  14. What are the proposals for controlling the police and fire costs? Even if Measure C does pass isn’t the revenue it raises it a drop in the bucket? When will we spend more money (51%) on police and fire benefits than services?

    Comment by Adrian Blakey — May 22, 2012 @ 9:25 pm

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