City Manager Compensation Survey

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In support of our efforts to promote broader transparency, the League of California Cities' City Managers Department, in partnership with the County Administrative Officers Association of California and the International City Management Association (ICMA), have completed a compensation survey of California city managers and county executive officers. All the survey participants made a good faith effort to submit this information, within a limited time frame, in order to achieve greater transparency, empowering greater citizen engagement, and local control.

The intent of this self-reported survey was to have a high level of participation, and we are pleased to report a 90 percent response rate as of the date of release. As for those agencies that have not responded, there may be a variety of reasons for that. Some report they have already published their full compensation and want to avoid the publication of conflicting information, the city manager's position may have been vacant in 2009, and twelve cities do not operate with a city manager.

Summary of the Survey's Key Elements

  • Of the 468 cities and towns with managers, approximately 90 percent responded to the survey, with more continuing to report. Twelve cities have no city manager, either because they are too small or they have the mayor-council form of government (e.g., L.A. and San Diego). The position may be vacant in others.
  • In order to secure a quick but complete response, managers were asked to report the amount of compensation that appeared in "Box 5" of the Federal W-2 form for Calendar Year 2009. Although not perfect, this is a uniformly available compensation figure that includes salary and a variety of fringe benefits (e.g., car allowance, deferred compensation, payouts of unused leave, life insurance greater than $50,000, etc.). It does not include health insurance or employer payments to defined benefit retirement programs, however. This latter information will be collected in the upcoming report from the State Controller's Office, which the League and Cal-ICMA (the California Affiliate of ICMA) have both offered comments on to the State Controller's Office.
  • City managers who felt the amount reported in Box 5 of the W-2 was neither complete (as some had already released more comprehensive data) or otherwise needed an accompanying explanation were provided that opportunity.
As of Oct. 25, 2010, the information in this survey can be augmented by information being compiled by the State Controller's Office, which has adopted the new Local Government Compensation Reporting program. Under this program, cities and counties are required to submit much more comprehensive information on compensation levels for all of their employees.
The public can also search for California State workers salaries using The Sacramento Bee's State Worker Salary Search database.
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