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Cash Flow: City Wage Focus Median Management Salaries Soar Above Peer Cities

By Jennifer Eden

A recent study commissioned by the City of Santa Monica is shedding light on the current staffing and compensation situation of the City.

Accounting, consulting and wealth management firm Moss Adams completed the study at a maximum contract cost of $210,000. It will form part of the Santa Monica Draft Compensation and Staffing Report to be be reviewed by the City’s Audit Subcommittee Feb. 28, 2018.

One key finding of the Moss Adams report is that “Santa Monica had the highest median management level cash wages among peer cities at $214,842, which is 14.5 percent ($187,689) above the peer median…Santa Monica does not have a formal compensation philosophy or policy that guides the City’s compensation setting process.”

Seven departments had 100 percent of median management positions in their department above peer averages: City Attorney, City Clerk, Housing and Economic Development, Human Resources, Planning and Community Development, Police and Transit.

“The study identifies that Santa Monica median management cash compensation is higher in comparison to peer cities,” City of Santa Monica Public Information Officer Constance Farrell told The Mirror, attributing the higher rank, in part, to “a larger City Attorney’s Office than peer cities.”

“Santa Monica’s City Attorney’s Office manages a unique caseload including revenue-producing litigation, consumer protection and criminal litigation using primarily in-house attorneys,” Farrell explained.

The study, which began in June 2017, reviewed policies and practices related to City employee compensation and staffing levels. The report provides observations and recommendations organized in the following categories: Wage and benefits packages, drivers of compensation and public safety overtime. Next week’s Mirror will look at the CalPERS unfunded liability that is facing Santa Monica.

The Audit Subcommittee will meet Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 at 6 p.m. at Santa Monica Institute Training Room, 330 Olympic Drive, 2nd Floor (Plaza Level), Santa Monica, Ca 90401. Members of the public are welcome.

City Manager Rick Cole said the City will most likely go with the recommendations made.

Santa Monica’s management cash wages are above its peers.
Photo: Moss Adams
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