Stunning data on average compensation for municipal employees in California

Forget the old-fashioned term “civil servants”; America’s new ruling class is government employees.  Would you like your kids to go to work for an outfit where employees average between two hundred grand and a quarter mill?  Forget about investment banks or law firms; tell them to go to work for a fire protection district in California.

Transparent California, a project of two free-market think tanks, the California Policy Center and the Nevada Policy Research Institute, has released a database of municipal (cities, towns, and special-purpose districts such as water and fire protection districts) employee salaries that is stunning.  The North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area had the highest averages, but other areas of that metropolis and the state as a whole also featured extraordinary averages, not to say individual cases.

Some highlights:

The average full-time compensation for employees of 55 North Bay cities was $130,172 in 2013, with thousands earning more than $200,000 a year and hundreds more earning more than $50,000 in overtime alone.  Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

Two thousand and six North Bay municipal employees earned at least $200,000.

  • Walter Shuld, San Pablo Police Chief, earned $440,983.
  • Malcolm E. Miller, Oakland Police Officer, earned $436,256.
  • George R. Silva, Hayward Battalion Chief, earned $428,457.
  • 488 North Bay municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
  • Angel Bobo, Richmond Fire Captain,, made $279,105 in overtime and $508,893 in total compensation.
  • Marc Palechek, Richmond Fire Captain, made $241,578 in overtime and $450,942 in total compensation.
  • Stanley Eng, Vallejo Police Corporal, made $221,073 in overtime and $425,660 in total compensation.

Note that most of these cities are not affluent, and some, like San Pablo and Richmond, are considered poor and troubled.  Vallejo, which pays a fire captain 450K, went through bankruptcy and laid off a substantial portion of its police force.


Average full-time municipal employee compensation statewide was $120,569.

Eleven thousand two hundred and three municipal employees took home over $200,000, with 3,661 making over $50,000 in overtime.

Average full-time municipal employee compensation for other regions in California were:

  • South Bay: $141,739
  • Greater Sacramento: $109,785
  • Central Valley: $99,678
  • Greater Los Angeles: $119,462
  • Greater San Diego: $114,329
  • Northern California: $108,269
  • Central Coast: $111,784

Average full-time special district employee compensation was $106,592.

Average full-time special district compensation for the top five districts were:

  • San Ramon Valley Fire Protection: $245,624
  • Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District: $237,424
  • Montecito Fire Protection: $214,363
  • Woodside Fire Protection District: $211,998
  • Central County Fire Department: $208,583 

Looking at my own town, Berkeley, I see that almost 50 people are earning over a quarter of a million dollars.  Wow!  I went into the wrong line of work.  These people get a lot of holidays and vacation days, too.

If you experience technical problems, please write to