Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

105 City of Santa Monica Employees Are Paid Over $300,000 a Year

No City in the State of California pays employees as much as Santa Monica does.

It's an open secret that Santa Monica Police officers and other City employees are the best paid in the world. hopes to rip off the mask on why.

In Newport Beach, a city about the size of Santa Monica, 13 employees make more than 300,000 per year. In Long Beach, a city six times the size of Santa Monica, 13 employees make more than $300K a year. In Santa Monica, 105 employees make more than $300,000 per year. So says,

A CBS 2 investigation called "Small City, Big Pay" says Santa Monica has some of the highest taxes in the State, and also the highest paid employees in the State. Could it be a coincidence?

Including overtime, a few are even raking in half a million collars a year in total compensation. They've joined the 1%, said reporter Kristy Fajardo.

SM City Manager Rick Cole makes no apologies. "We need to have a more equal society," he says, with no little irony. His base salary of $329,000 per year, exceeds the total annual budget of The Observer Newspaper. "Some of the people behind the cameras at your news station, make as much. We have excellent staff people. And so we don't think we're paying too much," said Cole.

Including overtime, Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks makes $478,120 a year (that's $40,000 a month!). Appreciably more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who makes $344,000 a year. He runs a department with 9000 officers. Seabrooks runs a department with perhaps 250 officers. Why does Seabrooks earns more than Beck? Fajardo asked Cole. "I think their compensations are comparable to the responsibilities of their jobs," said Cole. "Charlie Beck has a tough job. Santa Monica is a challenging place, and we aim to be the best," said Cole.

Transparent California's spokesman Robert Fellner did not agree. "It's hard to justify that compensation as anything other than a giveaway of public money."

One police sergeant with $137K in pay and $179K in over time, piled up $475K in a year when other pay and benefits were added in. He was the second highest paid employee in the City of Santa Monica.

How does Cole explain so much overtime? Lack of staff. The police department has 18 openings about as many as the Fire Department. "There's a difference between being out of patrol on overtime, something we would never do, and being on a movie shoot," said Cole, arguing that police officers working 80 hours a week to pile up overtime, did not threaten the public in any way.

Felner said he'd like to see the City audited. "They have a duty not to lavish other peoples money on salaries," said Fellner.

The Voters apparently don't mind either, having just approved a half percent increase in the sales tax.

As stated, many of the facts and interviews in this story appeared on CBS 2 News at 11PM on 11/15/2016


Reader Comments(2)

Raymond writes:

How many Santa Monica voters know that the last time Santa Monica increased the sales tax, they were told it would go to the schools HOWEVER a large part of the money went to bolster the failing pensions of over paid Santa Monica employees. This time the sales tax increase is suppose to go to schools and low income housing but actually the money goes into the city's general fund to be used for whatever the city council decides. SM voters are like Trump voters, they believe anything SMRR tells them.

Cudahy1960 writes:

Amazing how Rick Cole attempts to justify this outrageous pay of tax dollars. When Santa Monica voted for the tax increase were they aware of the excessive salaries? To think Rick Cole was such a critic regarding the Bell scandal, now he will soon be part of one.