Public Employee Pay Raises Despite Deficits

Updated: May 22, 2018

San Diego, Modesto and Santa Ana Employees Received Pay Raises Despite Budget Shortfalls

San Diego Police Officers Get 30 Percent Raise. The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a 25 percent to 30 percent pay increase for city police officers in an attempt to solve the city’s police staffing problem.


The city has approximately 1,820 officers – more than 10 percent below staffing goals. The raises are aimed to retain current staff and encourage new recruits.


In a separate action, the council unanimously approved a 24.1 percent pay raise for 9-1-1 fire and medical dispatchers to boost recruiting and retention efforts.


San Diego faces projected deficits of $10.1 million in budget year 2019, $34.6 million in 2020 and $19.8 million in 2021. (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, December 5.)


Modesto Irrigation District Employees Get 16 Percent Raise. Modesto Irrigation District (MID) leaders approved 16 percent employee raises over the next five years.


Despite pleas from some board members and taxpayers for more time to study the proposed five-year labor deal, the board approved the deal with no staff presentation. Members of the public had no reference point when leaders discussed the increases.

Not mentioned during the discussion was The Modesto Bee’s review of public salaries that found MID offers higher pay and more generous benefits than many cities, county governments and local agencies.


The Bee noted that the average 2016 private-sector wage for the area was $39,969, compared to $91,105 for the average MID worker. MID workers received an additional $54,500 per worker in health and retirement benefits. (Source: The Modesto Bee, December 5.)


Santa Ana Approves Pay Raise Despite Budget Deficit. The Santa Ana City Council approved $1.5 million in raises for city employees December 5 despite facing a projected $600,000 budget shortfall.


The raises are mainly for non-police employees, and include a 2 percent mid-contract raise. The workers will receive a 2.25 percent base salary increase retroactive to September 1, plus expanded benefits for cashing out vacation time.


The raises come only a few months after the City Council approved a $2.7 million-per-year raise for police employees.


Both votes were 6-1, with Councilwoman Michele Martinez opposing both.

“I believe all of our employees deserve a raise, but unfortunately the city is not in a good position to be giving raises,” Ms. Martinez said.


The city’s projections for revenue growth are below the pay raises, Ms. Martinez added. She also noted that the city’s costs will increase due to rapidly rising employee pension and medical costs.

An auditor hired by the city earlier this year told the council that “pension spikes” are going to hit cities hard. The city’s pension costs are up $22 million per year since 2014, and are continuing to climb. (Source: Voice of Orange County, December 7.)

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