At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, councilmembers and the public were treated to a detailed presentation on employee compensation in the city of Davis.
With the current national, state and local budget issues, people want to know where their money goes. Lately, this has led to heightened scrutiny across the nation of the compensation of public employees, from custodial staff to fire fighters to the city manager.
In response, councilmembers left the bench, pushed tables together and listened to Paul Navazio, assistant city manager in Davis, explain exactly how Davis employees are compensated in a 90-minute presentation.
“We think it’s critical that local citizens understand the workings of employee compensation,” said Navazio.
The presentation was informational, so the council did not make any decisions or come up with a position on employee compensation. The council will use the information as background when they enter into coming negotiations with police and firefighters‘ bargaining groups.
City Attorney Harriet Steiner emphasized the informational nature of the presentation and encouraged the city council members not to reveal positions that would hinder a fair negotiation.
“For tonight, I think one of the ground rules is to maintain an open mind,” she said. “Have a discussion about what you want to talk about, but don’t make any conclusions or draw any lines in the sand, so to speak.“
The presentation outlined the current compensation packages. According to Navazio, the packages include salary, health benefits, retirement benefits, retiree medical benefits and leave benefits.
The benefits outside of salaries add significant value to the compensation packages. In the data given, the average department head receives a salary of $137,883 per year. When health, retirement and other benefits are added, the total compensation for a department head totals $203,290. For the typical supervisor, the salary of $63,512 is only part of the total $101,872 compensation package.
Navazio also said the benefits are adjusted based on comparison between benchmark positions and a “market” standard. The market is determined by looking at a group of about 10 cities that are chosen for a variety of factors.
Across the board, compensation in Davis is compared to the agencies of the cities of Fairfield, Roseville, Vacaville, West Sacramento and Woodland. The cities of Folsom and Napa are used in most comparisons, and a variety of other Northern California cities and agencies are used for comparison depending on perceived relevance to a given department.
Benefits and salary are also tied to the amount of responsibility a given position has versus another position within the system. In most cases, an employee’s position on a five-step pay scale also factors into pay.
Navazio said the combination of benefits must be competitive in order to encourage recruitment and retention of employees.
The presentation also included historical trends in personnel costs, a brief overview of the collective bargaining process and goals for the future.
A question-and-answer session followed the presentation. For the most part, councilmembers asked for more information regarding specific details in the presentation.
As the meeting came to a close after midnight, Mayor Ruth Asmundson thanked Navazio for his presentation and emphasized the value of the discussion.
“This has been a good workshop,” Asmundson said. “This is an important part of the process of understanding our financing.“
According to Navazio, most of the information in the presentation and contributing to the presentation is available to the public.
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