When people started learning what city employees in the small California city of Bell were making, people started asking questions. The scandal over those big paychecks is not going away. Now, the State Attorney General’s Office wants to see financial records from some past and present city employees. The question remains, what do your city officials make. You may be surprised.
City managers here in the Coachella Valley make the most out of any city position. Their salaries range from $182,700 to $262,500 a year. The city manager of the city that has the smallest population is making the most. Greg Johnson, city manager of Indian Wells, is bringing in $262,500. The estimated population of Indian Wells is 5,093. KESQ asked Johnson for an interview, but we never got a response.
City manager salaries have increased after Glenn Southerd was hired on five years ago. When he retired last year, he was making $309,000. Through a city records request, we found out the new Indio City Manager, Manager Dan Martinez is making $218,000. Indio city officials recently took a 10 percent pay cut to help with the budget. City Council Member Glenn Miller said, “We work for the people; we want them to know we are being frugal with their money and, at the same time, responsible.”
When it comes to city council members’ salaries, it varies. In Coachella, city council members make $5,688 a year. In Palm Desert, the part-time council members earn $44,254. This does not include benefits and retirement.
In September of last year, News Channel 3 investigated the spending of Palm Desert city council members. Our investigation started at City Hall, and hundreds of pages of expense reports from Aug. 1, 2008, to July 31, 2009. For one year, the total for four of the five council members was a little over $5,000. The total for Councilman Jim Ferguson, over $20,000. Since our investigation, the city changed how council members can spend money and how much they spend when they travel.
Some cities like Riverside have started disclosing what its employees make by posting the salaries on the city’s website. Some Coachella Valley cities are posting salary ranges, but not specific salaries.
We requested interviews with the city council members and city managers included in this story. We were denied interviews.