City Releases Employee Salaries for 2011

The list many public officials at San Jose City Hall dread every year—annual salaries—posted to the city’s website.

Coming in at the top spot is retired Police Captain Jeff Smith, who received a total cash compensation of $399,130—with $264,000 coming from sick leave and vacation payouts. In fact, the top seven people on the list are all now retired. Each person received a sick leave/vacation payout that was more than $100,000. Gary Kirby ($346,674) and Kennethh Tanaka ($324,430), both of the police department, came in second and third for total cash compensation, respectively.

No one came close to matching last year’s top earner, retired police chief Rob Davis, who walked away with 534,576 in total cash compensation. With more than $300K of that amount coming from sick leave and vacation payout, some members of the City Council have called for ending the lump sum cash reward for sick time, or at the very least a cap.

Harry Mavrogenes, former executive director of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, was the highest-paid, non-safety public employee in 2011, receiving $257,255 in total cash compensation. More than half of that amount came from sick leave and vacation payout. City Manager Debra Figone was the highest-paid city employee not to retire, bringing in $248,493 in total cash compensation. City Attorney Rich Doyle was 13th on the list, making a little more than $232,000 in 2011.

Police Chief Chris Moore was 19th on the list ($226,129), Fire Chief William McDonald was 26th ($218,460), Airport Director Bill Sherry was 40th ($204,254) and Librarian Director Jane Light, who was not listed as retired, came in 34th with $209,132. Not being listed as retired likely made Light’s sick leave and vacation payout substantially lower.

The top four salaries listed under the search tab for City Council went to people working under Mayor Chuck Reed. Reed was 1,687th on the list of employee salaries for 2011, making $111,487 in total cash compensation, yet his executive officers Jose Salcido ($121,282), Armando Gomez ($116,789), Jeff Janssen ($116,186) and Chief of Staff Pete Furman ($115,2169) each made more money. The mayor’s spokesman, Michelle McGurk, made $104,101 in total compensation. It should be noted that the mayor has taken a voluntary pay cut in recent years due to 10 straight years of budget shortfalls, in addition to the 10 percent cut all other city employees were forced to take.

Pete Constant had a total cash compensation of $90,664 in 2011 to take the top spot among city councilmembers. Don Rocha had the lowest compensation total of anyone on the council at $82,471.

Of the 88 full-time and temporary employees listed under the City Manager’s search tab, 26 made more than $100,000 in total cash compensation last year. The group of 26 includes Mavrogenes and another retired employee, Anne Ortiz.

There was a tie between park ranger Polly Parenti and retired arson investigator James Hirano as the least-compensated employees in the city for 2011. Both of them received $5.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


        • Doesn’t get much easier that what is stated above.  Suggest you research, the POA contract agreed to by the council.  I’m sure you can find it online or contact a council member, it is public information.

        • But you have to understand why.  Years ago the city proposed this equation to the police union.  Yes, that is right, it was the city’s idea to allow police employees to bank their unused sick time to be paid off upon retirement.  The motivation was to avoid hiring sufficient staffing to handle a normal absentee rate.  Every organization, private and public, has certain statistical absentee rates accounting for a percentage of sick call ins, vacations, comp time taken, training sessions, etc.  A responsible organization hires enough staff to insure that service levels are maintained at all times accounting for those absences.

          The city decided it was cheaper to kick the can down the road and live with very low staffing levels by making the incentive to show up to work sick instead of taking the day off so great that PD employees just couldn’t pass it up.  When you see those huge figures on the PD salaries, most of the time it isn’t a currently employed member, but a recently retired member who received their payout.  You can thank a city that does not want to hire adequately and therefore places the financial burden on future generations for this policy.

  1. lets see what the checks printed said… its one thing to say so and so made this much but my guess is the cops actually take home pay was far less that is why they are not at the top of this list. So let us see how much the fire and police actually took home after the Cities take aways. could it be that after the city taxes their employess they do not make as much as Reed, Nguyen, contant and Tam are reporting.

  2. These City employee salaries should not be as a concern when the PG&E CEO left and was given $56 million separation. Lets get the BIG one’s first! It is your money that paid PG&E!!!

  3. Tune in this Wednesday, February 8th at 11PM to view NBC (KNTV) Bay Area’s Investigative (Channel 11 or Comcast Channel 3) report regarding San Jose’s fuzzy pension math.

    Click the below link to see a clip that aired on NBC last night regarding this story.

    • Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about. FINALLY, some agency has taken notice that what we have been trying to tell people ALL ALONG was true. Citizens of San Jose, we have been telling you the truth. FINALLY, some agency is paying attention. Thanks for that, Really. Hopefully, more agencies will pick up and someone will start investigating where the money went.


    • I agree with most of your concerns except for the question of how much an employee pays into their own deferred comp plan.  This is totally up to the individual.  You could pay $10 a pay period or max out for the year.  This has nothing to do with pension.  This is money they decide to withhold from their check for future savings and has nothing to do with the city.  Of course they will be taxed when they start to take the money out after retirement.

      This number will not show in retirement because it is like you putting money out of your check into a savings account at any bank.

    • Because then it doesn’t look so scandalous?!  I can think of another reason…..the mayor’s great pension reform legacy!  Remember, it’s the city employees that are bankrupting this city, not the outrageous spenders at City Hall. I can come up with more reasons if you would like…..

  5. How about listing all of the council!

    Harry Mavrogenes, former executive director of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, was the highest-paid, non-safety public employee in 2011, receiving $257,255 in total cash compensation.

    Great that we still have a 4.1 BILLION dollar still owed from the RDA.  Where in the hell is this money going to come from?  General funds?  And when will the city quit borrowing from this fund to pay other bills?

    The top four salaries listed under the search tab for City Council went to people working under Mayor Chuck Reed. Reed was 1,687th on the list of employee salaries for 2011, making $111,487 in total cash compensation, yet his executive officers Jose Salcido ($121,282), Armando Gomez ($116,789), Jeff Janssen ($116,186) and Chief of Staff Pete Furman ($115,2169) each made more money. The mayor’s spokesman, Michelle McGurk, made $104,101 in total compensation.  (A TALKING HEAD, PLEASE)

    This is why we are going down the toilet.  Jose Salcido, does what!  Consult on gang homicides, they are going up.  Hell I could do that free.  But then Chuck has never acknowledged that we have a gang problem!

    Don’t tell me about pension problems and fiscal emergency, the city council is the problem.  WAKE UP SAN JOSE!!!

  6. Im a city employee and don’t make anywhere near what these people do . There should be a cap of $100k tops for any government (especially local government) jobs period. And they took 12.5% from me and I should think this is fair, when I’m lucky if I can make half of what they do? Greed and Foggy need to go now!


        • Just go to, select Police from the department pull down menu and enter in 100000 in the first box of total compensation range and hit search.  You will see the first page of 74 pages that list PD staff that made over $100K in 2011 (1108).  Then count them up and divide them by the total number of PD staff for 2011 (1858).  It comes to 59.6%.  Of course, I am using all PD staff, sworn and non-sworn.  I expect the percentage would be higher if one just use sworn numbers.

    • Did you also know that in a two earner household, like most in SJ, if both earners were PD they’d have household income of over 200K? And that they could count on purchasing a $4,000,000 home when they retire at 55- $15,000/mo. mortgage payments courtesy of the good people of San Jose?

      • again flawed numbers, show me the facts.  In addition, there are very few two couples at the PD.  But there are alot of single officers who rent houses together to make the payments.

        Anyone can post false into on the site to get the blood boiling, show us links etc, to back your information, otherwise it is useless!

      • Ok, so….what is your point?  People should not be allowed to work if they are women?  People arent allowed to have two incomes to make ends meet? You think that they done “earn” a living like someone sitting at a chair in front of a computer?  Its a good thing we still HAVE people willing to WORK for a living, not looking for the safety of a cubicle.  Risk should be rewarded accordingly.  How many people in your profession have to deal with what our Public Safety people deal with?  Besides, if 2 income families in Silly-con Valley work, and they are computer ENGINEERS (lets compare apples to apples, shall we?) they have about the same income.  PLUS a 401K, Social Security, Retirement, etc…..Dont hate the people who protect you, support them!!

      • There’s a reason why no private company promises it’s employees that the company will make up the difference if the employees’ projected 8% annual rate of return on their retirement account fails to eventuate.
        There’s a reason why no private company (except General Motors of course) guarantees the amount of the pension benefit they’ll pay.
        What IS the reason, you ask?
        Because it’s fiscally irresponsible!

        • Ok, lets run Public Safety like a “business”.  Swipe your card when services are rendered.  if you cant afford them, no services need to be rendered.  As the fire spreads from house to house, look for the one who can pay.  Exact the amount of money necessary to pay for the assumption of risk, liability and use of tools, equipment and personnel to extinguish the blaze.  Bill accordingly and COMPENSATE THE WORKFORCE!!!  That would mean if you cant pay, dont buy the services.  if you CAN pay, we can charge whatever we want.  Problem solvers for this “business” get paid first, because they are the most valued resource.  Management is, of course, necessary to control overhead and production.  I would LOVE to be compensated in those terms, because I wouldnt NEED a return of investments from some piddly 401K or City retirement plan, because I would be so bloody rich i could invest in whatever I wanted!  Sometimes I would just relish the thought of carrying a VISA card reader with me on calls to see the faces of people like you when I ask them if it will be “cash or charge”.  Ask your “Private” ambulance company what the “charge” for services.  then compare that to the Fire Department for the same services.  $3,500 transport bill VS $0.  Nice logic……

        • Dont we all teach our children ” say what you mean and mean what you say”? in other words dont make promises you cant keep. it is NOT the employees fault for accepting what the City offered INSTEAD of raises. The City had ample time and money to Put it where it needed to go, instead This Mayor chose to scapegoat the very people that make this city run and keep it safe

  7. did anyone pay attention to how much the city paid into Debs Deferred compensation? 

    Figone, Debra   City Manager   City Manager &20;,518!!!

    City does not pay a penny into any public safety deferred comp plan.  It only comes out of their pay check if they want it to.

    Be sure to clink on the link before you start attacking the unions.  I wish Josh would also post all the free cars, gas and travel expenses just to start what council and others receive.  Oh and money into Calpers.  What channel 11 Wednesday 11PM.


    Why would City Hall bought and paid for with tax paid city propaganda machine – Mercury News publish anything that contradicts their anti employee political campaign ?

    City unions and South Bay Labor have lost the media war because they are NOT publishing their side of the story backed up by facts not more labor propaganda

    Public DOES NOT WANT more propaganda, political buzz words and tired slogans

    Most people don’t like Figone but you have to give her credit for how she as a master manipulator using tax money, Mercury, played unions against each other and fear changed public opinion of police, fire and city employees from positive to negative while incompetent labor unions leadership did little to nothing but watch

    Public wants FACTS that can be easily checked from reliable sources not more City Hall, Chamber or labor fronts groups that publish Chamber or Labor propaganda, twisted facts or omit entire story while picking only those facts that support their side like we see daily in unethical biased Mercury

      • I do but there is much more you do not grasp.  Us “$100,000 a year employees” only make $85,000 a year. The rest is notional. You seriously need to actually see what the true numbers are. Until then you continue to speak ignorantly. You do not posses the facts yet you speak so authoritatively. Like the saying goes, better to remain silent and let people think you are a fool……

        • what does “notional” mean?  Waht do you consider the “true numbers”…what you take home?

          As Expenditures said below—you cost us $115k/year.  That’s what comes OUT of our collective pocket to pay you.

          So, you want to NET $115k?

          Your ignorance of where the money comes from and where it goes is scary for someone costing the taxpayers so much money.  Whatever it is you do, I’m thinking you are overpaid, based on your post.

          And, oh, take your own advice in the last sentence.

    • The City did spend 115,000 for you.  The fact you took home 66,000 is OK, you have taxes deducted, insurances, retirement costs, defered comp etc, but you cost the taxpayers 115,000.  Thats the real world.

  9. how someone claims 60% of PD makes over 100K is nuts.  Sounds good, looks good on a blog, how about the 25K the feds and state took in taxes.  Humm, doesn’t sound so good after all to work holidays, midnights, most don’t even get a weekend day off.  And time off is denied due to lack of staffing.

    And to ensure a retirement many take additional money out to put into a 401K.

    Great job, you should try it sometime

    February 9, 2012

    Contact: Kerry Hillis, Communications/Public Affairs, SJPOA 916-266-1156, [email protected]

    San Jose City Employees Vote to File Ethics Complaint Against Mayor Reed & Retirement Department Director

    San Jose Police Officers Association
    San Jose Firefighters, Local 230
    IFPTE, Local 21’s (representing AEA, CAMP and AMSP)

    Thursday, February 9, 2011
    12:00 PM

    San Jose Police Officers Association
    1151 North Fourth Street
    San Jose, CA 95112
    Press Conference announcing the submission of a formal ethics complaint against San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, the San Jose City Council and Retirement Services Director Russell Crosby for submitting false information to the public and withholding key information from the public in regards to San Jose’s fiscal condition as it prepared to declare a “fiscal emergency.”

    The complaint, voted on at an emergency meeting this morning, alleges that the Mayor, Mr. Crosby and potentially other City officials violated California law, the City Charter and City Council policy by publishing pension projections it knew to be false in an effort to make the case for declaring a “fiscal emergency.” Withholding “material facts” and knowingly using false information violates state and local law.

    Yesterday, a news organization published the results of their investigation showing that City officials knowingly used false figures when publicly calling for a “fiscal emergency.” Mayor Reed and other councilmembers published documents citing that retirement costs could balloon to $650 million-a figure that Retirement Services Director Russell Crosby states in the report came “off the top of his head” and that he claimed was made in error. Crosby states that he told the Mayor not to use the figure -the Mayor responded by saying, “I don’t know. I don’t remember anyone saying, ‘don’t ever use that.”

    • Just wondering , Why hasnt “the Mercury News” written one word about Mayor Reeds………..lying, cheating ways???? hey Merc , where u at??

    • The real number used in written formal City documents was 400 million and this fact was stated in the investigative piece.  While the 650 number was thorwn around, it was not in any formal budget documents.  This is another wild goose chase conjured up by the unions to take away the focus from the facts that there is still a 300 million problem with the pension system.  While the way the broadcast was editied to look sensational piecing in answers to small snippits, the facts will remain the facts.  Good luck with your ethics complaint, it is just going to cost the unions money.

      • Is this be a formal enough city budget document for you?

        June Budget Message for Fiscal Year 2011 – Signed by Mayor Reed on 6-3-11 states (Page 2 and graph on Page 3):

        “Unfortunately, the huge increase to fund retirement costs to date is just beginning. Using the most optimistic assumptions, retirements costs, if left unchecked, will increase to $400 million per year by 2016 – or almost 30% of the General Fund – and will continue to go up for another 10 or 15 years. Even greater increases in retirement costs are likely if actuarial assumptions, such as life expectancy, retirement ages, or rates of investment return, are modified by the retirement boards that are independent from the City and have fiduciary obligations to modernize assumptions and keep the plans solvent. That could cause retirement costs to jump to $650 million per year by 2016.”

        Credit to “Waiting to Hear From Sam Licardo” for finding this.

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