Compensation / Labor Relations
The public has the right to know the pay and benefits of all public servants. Our city government is committed to transparency on compensation to every member of the public.
This is especially important today, when more than half of American workers have lost their jobs or had a reduction in hours or pay because of the recession. Meanwhile, the outrageous pay for elected officials and top staff in the tiny city of Bell, California has become international news. Public pensions have also become big news, as falling revenues force deep cuts in services, even while the cost of funding pensions is rising.
These issues generate heated public debate. But one thing should not be up for debate: the public’s right to know how public money is spent.
Ventura has long been transparent about pay and benefits. Each year, the schedule of pay and benefits is publicly reviewed and adopted by the City Council (“Salary resolution.”) This remains on our website all year, along with the schedule of pay ranges for every position in the City. Pay for elected officials is in the City Charter and can only be changed by a vote of the citizens.
But to make it easy to for the public and press to access all this information, we’ve put together a comprehensive source for data on public pay. So far as we know, we are the first city in California to do so.
It’s the right thing to do.
The City of Ventura has also been at the forefront of compensation reform. In 2009, the Council convened a Compensation Policies Task Force made up of Council members, citizen and business leaders from the community and employee representatives to thoroughly review our pay, benefits and pensions.
As a result, the Council voted in April 2010 to amend their public “Compensation Guidelines” by adding:
It is the City Council's policy direction to move towards a more sustainable pension program by negotiating cost reduction provisions such as a two tiered retirement benefit system and returning to employees paying their share of CalPERS pension
In 2011, the City successfully completed negotiations with all city unions implementing the Council’s direction.
City Council Compensation Policies
The City Council sets the pay, benefits and other terms affecting all public employees who work for the City. Each year, the Council adopts a Salary Resolution that sets out pay ranges for all positions and other terms of employment including benefits and pensions.
In 2009, City Council appointed a Compensation Policies Task Force that issued a report on employee compensation, benefits and pensions.
Public Officials Appointments
City Charter Section 601 sets the pay of the Council at $600 a month and allows the Mayor to earn up to $700 a month. This has not been raised for more than twenty years.
Under the charter authorization for “authorized traveling and other expenses while on official duty,” each Councilmember receives $100 a month flat allowance (reduced from $300 a month for the Mayor and $200 a month for Councilmembers as part of balancing the FY 2010/11 budget.)
The City does not contribute toward Medical, Dental, and Vision benefits, but Councilmembers may purchase coverage under the City’s employee benefit plans. Upon request, the City loans members of the Council a cell phone (iPhone or Blackberry) as well as a Laptop, and Printer for official business.
Councilmembers are authorized to attend conferences, workshops and meetings that directly relate to City business (although out of state travel must be authorized by the City Council in open session.) The actual expenses are public records. As a result of budget cuts, each Councilmember has a limit of $2750 per year for all such expenses, unless another Councilmember agrees to transfer part of their allocation.
In addition to their City Council duties, each member of the City Council also serves as a governing board member or liaison to a variety of local, County and Regional agencies, organizations and projects. The vast majority of these additional assignments are unpaid. In most cases, those assignments are made annually by the Mayor with the approval of the full City Council. Others are selected in alternate ways (for example, Councilmember Carl Morehouse has been elected by area cities to represent western Ventura County on the Regional Council of the Southern California Association of Governments and Councilmember Neal Andrews was selected by the President of the National League of Cities to serve on that organization's Community and Economic Development Policy Committee.)
A few of the governing bodies that Ventura Council members participate in provide a "per diem" for each meeting attended (for example, the Ventura County Transportation Commission and the Ventura Regional Santitation District Board.) Where the Mayor or a member of the City Council also serves on the governing board of another agency that pays a per diem to its members, that assignment and the per diem is listed below. These payments are only claimed if a meeting is actually scheduled and the Councilmember attends. Meetings are sometimes skipped or canceled.
Mayor Cheryl Heitmann: Annual Salary: $8,400
Deputy Mayor Erik Nasarenko: Annual Salary: $7,200
Councilmember Neal Andrews: Annual Salary: $7,200
Councilmember James L. Monahan: Annual Salary: $7,200
$50 per meeting (quarterly) - Animal Regulation Commission
$186 per meeting (twice a month) - Ventura Regional Santitation District Board (VRSD)
Councilmember Carl E. Morehouse: Annual Salary: $7,200
$120 per meeting (monthly) - Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)
$100 per meeting (monthly) - Gold Coast Transit (GCT)
$50 per meeting - LAFCO
$100 per meeting (monthly) - Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC)
Councilmember Mike Tracy: Annual Salary $7,200
Councilmember Christy Weir: Annual Salary: $7,200
The City Council has been at the forefront of employee compensation reform in California. In 2009, the Council set up a Compensation Policies Task Force of Councilmembers, civic and business leaders from the community and employee representatives. After extensive public discussions, it delivered a final report, including these key findings:
- Perceptions aside, Ventura city employees' salaries have generally tracked with the overall private sector labor market. During the period 2001-2008, average salaries and wages rose an average 4.37% annually compared to the overall regional labor market increase of 4.29%.
- Pension plans for Ventura employees are in line with those offered by other public agencies in California. While the 2008 commitment to provide Ventura firefighters a 3%@55 formula was locally controversial, 93% of firefighters statewide are already covered by a formula equal to or greater than that. The Ventura Police formula of 3 @50 covers more than 81% of public safety employees statewide. All remaining Ventura employee pensions are calculated using the 2@55 standard. Statewide 96% of general employees work under a formula equal or greater than that - 62% have a higher benefit formula.
- Ventura does not offer post-retirement medical benefits. A State of California compensation study showed these costly benefits are provided by 86% of the cities they surveyed.
- The most pressing issue is the rising cost of public pensions generally. Riding the dot.com and stock market booms of the last fifteen years provided a windfall for public agencies and enabled CalPERS (the State plan covering most public employees in California) to offer enhanced pension formulas. CalPERS projects that by 2016, total pension contributions will rise to 30% of salary for general employees and 46% for public safety employees.
- While such costs do not appear to be sustainable, these pension formulas are "vested" for all existing employees. Reducing the adverse impact on public services will require greater cost sharing with employees, the introduction of a lower tier for new hires and/or the replacement of current plans through negotiation with current employees.
The report was presented to the City Council in March 2010 and the City Council voted to amend its current "City Council Compensation Guidelines and Interests" with the following change:
In 2011, to implement these pension guidelines, the City, following the City Council's policy direction to move towards a more sustainable pension program by negotiating cost reduction provisions such as a two tiered retirement benefit system and returning to employees paying their share of CalPERS pension contributions, successfully negotiated and implemented a second tier retirement formula, including cost-sharing, for employees in the Ventura Police Officers Association, four units of the Service Employees International Union, and all unrepresented employees. The new formulas are as follows: Police: 3% @55, SEIU: 2% @60, Unrepresented: 2& @60.
Salary & Compensation Information
2014-15 Salary Resolution
A Resolution of the Council of the City of San Buenaventura Providing for a Systematic Classification of Positions and a Standardization of Salaries of Certain Paid Officers and Employees of the City for the 2014-15 Fiscal Year
Review information about current salaries, listed by job classification.
City Manager, Mark Watkins: Annual Salary $ 222,000
City Attorney, Ariel Calonne: Annual Salary $ 203,757
Police Chief, Ken Corney: Annual Salary $204,915
Fire Chief, Don McPherson: Annual Salary $186,659
Chief Financial Officer, Jay Panzica: Annual Salary $171,268
Community Development Director, Jeff Lambert: Annual Salary $171,268
Human Resources Director, Jennifer Curtis: Annual Salary $151,500
Parks, Recreation and Community Partnerships Director, Elena Brokaw: Annual Salary $167,091
Public Works Director, Rick Raives: Annual Salary $171,268
Ventura Water General Manager, Shana Epstein: Annual Salary $168,843
Employment Contracts / MOUs / Personnel Rules
All employees are covered by the Personnel Rules and Regulations adopted by the City Council. Under State law, public employees have the right to "collective bargaining" - the right to be represented by unions regarding "wages, hours and working conditions." Most city employees are represented by one of eight "bargaining units" that are covered by a "Memorandum of Understanding" - union contracts that result from good faith negotiations under the terms of State law. The City Council has also entered into contracts with the City Manager and the City Attorney, spelling out the conditions of their employment. All other employees, including Executive Management are categorized as "unrepresented" or "confidential" (ineligible for union representation because of their job access to confidential personnel matters.)
- Personnel Rules and Regulations
Employer-Employee Relations Resolution
City Attorney Employment Agreement, 2009
2014-15 Benefits Resolution - Unrepresented Employees
A Resolution of the Council of the City of San Buenaventura Providing for Benefits and Additional Compensation for Unrepresented Employees in Salary Schedules "E," "M," "U," "C" and "D" of the Salary Resolution
- 2014-15 Benefits Resolution - Unrepresented Employees
Fire Management Unit MOU
Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the Ventura Fire Management Association (VFMA) January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2013 (extended through June 30, 2014)
Fire Unit MOU
Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the Ventura City Firefighters' Association (VCFA), International Association of Firefighers', Local 3431, January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2013 (Extended through June 30, 2014)
- Fire Management Unit MOU
Police Management Unit MOU
Memorandum of Understanding between City and Ventura Police Management Association (VPMA) January 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 (with City option to extend to December 31, 2015)
Police Unit MOU
Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the Ventura Police Officers' Association (VPOA) January 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 (with City option to extend to December 31, 2015)
- Police Management Unit MOU
SEIU-General Unit MOU
Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the 'G' Unit of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 721, AFL-CIO, CLC January 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 (with option to extend through December 31, 2015)
SEIU-Maintenance Unit MOU
Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the 'A' Unit of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 721, AFL-CIO, CLC January 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 (with option to extend through December 31, 2015)
SEIU-Professional Unit MOU
Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the ‘Q’ Unit of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 721, SFL-CIO, CLC, Janaury 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 (with option to extend through December 31, 2015)
SEIU-Supervisor Unit MOU
Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the ‘S’ Unit of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 721, SFL-CIO, CLC, January 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 (with option to extend through December 31, 2015)
- SEIU-General Unit MOU
Public Pay In the News
As a result of the controversy over pay abuse in Bell, California, investigations have been launched by the California Attorney General's office and the Los Angeles County District Attorney. The City of Ventura is working with these agencies and the cities of Simi Valley and Glendale to ensure that our taxpayers are not penalized by these abuses affecting two employees who formerly worked in our city.
A number of other efforts have been launched to improve transparency of public official's salaries to ensure an abuse like occurred in Bell does not recur. Here are links to some of those efforts: