Show Me the Money: City Employee Salaries for 2012

San Jose released its annual list of city salaries late last week, reminding us once again where the bulk of the municipal budget goes. Like most municipalities, payroll accounts for the city’s single highest expense. San Jose shelled out $596 million, or 62 percent of this fiscal year’s budget, on payroll for its 5,500 employees. That doesn’t even count non-general fund personnel who work in utilities, such as Mineta San Jose International Airport or other city-run enterprises, says David Vossbrink—whose total 2012 pay, since we’re on the subject, was $135,638.

Here is the full list of City of San Jose Employee Salaries for 2012.

Retired Sgt. John M. Seaman topped the list, receiving total compensation in the amount of $308,345: $144,480 in vacation and sick leave payouts, $103,872 in base salary and $51,294 in overtime. In fact, five of the 10 highest earners retired last year, and six are police.

Recently retired Police Chief Chris Moore, who received the fifth highest amount in compensation, likely would have taken the top spot had he walked away from the job before the New Year. Not including full sick leave and vacation payouts, Moore received $255,791 in total compensation in 2012.

City Manager Debra Figone, coming in fourth, was once again was the highest-paid, non-public safety official and the most well-compensated active employee on the list at $255,8546. Her base salary is highest on the list.

Mayor Chuck Reed ($111,577) again managed to see several of his staffers earn more money than he did. Public safety advisor Jose Salcido pocketed $119,393 in total compensation, and he was followed by Pete Furman (118,6543), Reed’s chief of staff; Jeff Janssen ($116,186), a policy advisor; and Armando Gomez ($113,603); the mayor’s budget director.

Michelle McGurk, the mayor’s spokesperson, made more than any councilmember with $96,722 in total compensation, as did Joseph Okpaku ($94,250), a chief of staff for District 2 Councilmember Ash Kalra ($83,740).

Councilmembers from highest paid to lowest were as follows: Pete Constant ($89,736); Madison Nguyen ($89,287); Rose Herrera ($86,487); Peirluigi Oliviero ($86,284); Kansen Chu ($85,139); Sam Liccardo ($84,640); Kalra ($83,740); Xavier Campos ($83,449); Nancy Pyle ($83,449); and Don Rocha ($83,449).

No one came close to touching Rob Davis in 2011. San Jose’s former police chief ended his career with nearly $535,000 in total compensation for the year, $300,000 of which came from vacation and sick leave payouts.

Years of inflated PTO payouts have prompted some councilmembers to call for ending the lump-sum giveaways, or at least limiting them. A second-tier system has already been designed for a few unions, including anyone top-level administrators hired in the future.

City Attorney Richard Doyle, 10th on this year’s list, clocked in at $230,014. Senior Deputy City Attorney Brian Doyle, ended 2012 with $238,526 by cashing out $92,650 in sick leave/vacation payout.

Fire Battalion Chief Ivan Lee was seventh, earning $242,602 last year, about half of which came from overtime. Acting Police Chief Larry Esquivel ($230,376) came in ninth and Fire Chief William McDonald ($218,889) was 14th.

Of the 70 workers listed under the City Manager’s employ, 18 made more than six figures; four, obviously including Figone, made $200,000 or more.

The lowest-paid city staffer, Environmental Services plant operator trainee Timothy Carroll, made all of 30 cents last year.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Jose Salcido’s $119,000 had to be the city’s least productive money spent.  Does Reed really need such expensive “advice” on a topic he’s turned ino a disaster for the City?

  2. Please tell me why we are paying over 119,000 to Chucks Public safety advisor Jose Salcido.  Sounds like a golden hand shake to me.  Gee what can he advise Chuck, we have no more police department to speak of.  We have a gang problem.  You don’t have enough officers to protect San Jose.  Moral sucks.  And thanks for allowing me to double dip like Councilman Constant.

    I am willing to bet Pete’s 90K does not include his double dipping disability retirement from the PD and don’t forget 50% of that is tax free.

    Sgt. Seaman played by all the rules set forth by Chuck.  Did his 30 years of service and was smart enough not to burn his vacation, sick and OT time.  Good for him play by the rules and getting paid.

    The lowest-paid city staffer, Environmental Services plant operator trainee Timothy Carroll, made all of 30 cents last year.  Probably quit as soon as he walked in the door and left for another city.  Come on, please explain 30 cents.  That is more than most council members deserve.

  3. Its funny how Reed went after the Pensions of City workers , who have always paid into their own retirement , But Neither Reed , Figone or the rest of council even contribute to their own . Let it be said that all them (Reed,Figone,&council; members) will all receive generous Pensions Paid for by San Jose Residents

  4. Way to spin the facts.  The total budget is 2.8B. The City chooses to put just 29% of that money into the general fund from which city employees’ salaries paid. In looking at the impact of salaries on the city funds, the entire budget must be taken into consideration. Assuming the $596M is accurate, that is just 21% of the City’s budget and not the inflated and inaccurate 62% stated in the article.

  5. You think the city is bad check out where 400mil a yr goes to waste, scvwd the golden spigot 3% for creeks, 20% lawsuits, racial video’s more fraud, theft, mass firings, cao, ceo staff how many lawsuits and beau you remember after the retirement party, when you told your staff i don’t think i should have heard that.  hell ff and many others it IT do the same but with other words

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