Back in May of 2009, the Vanguard ran an analysis on “Why Do Firefighters Make Substantially More Than Police Officers in Davis?” At the time, there was a large salary discrepancy between equivalent positions in the two departments – stemming from the 36 percent pay increase given to fire in 2004 compared to a more modest 18 percent given to police.
By 2013, another Vanguard analysis found that “Davis Firefighters Near Top in Compensation, Police Near Bottom.” The analysis found that Davis Firefighters at the time made 5.1 percent above mean on salary and 7.4 percent above mean on total compensation, while their police counterparts made 5.7 percent below mean on total compensation for police officers. Of the comparison cities, only Fairfield paid more in total compensation (by a narrow margin) for fire, while Davis was third to last in total compensation for police.
Since that article, the city has agreed to two additional contracts with the Davis Police Officers while being forced to impose a new contract in late 2013 on fire.
This weekend, the Sacramento Bee did a listing of the top 50 local government salaries in the region for 2014, according to Transparent California’s website. According to the article, “The income does not include employer payments for health care or pensions.”
Listed are six Davis firefighters. Writes the Bee, “Overtime pay is what put five Davis firefighters in the list of top 50 salaries last year. Luis Parrilla, a firefighter, made $83,000 in overtime last year, helping to bring his total pay to just under $300,000.”
The Bee noted, “About one-third of the overtime was reimbursed by other government agencies for wildfire work, said Jackie Jaskowiak, a human resources analyst for the city of Davis. The fire department also had an increase in overtime because of the loss of five employees at the end of 2013, she said.”
|8.||Richard Moore||Fire Captain||Davis||$297,692|
|10.||Luis Parrilla||Firefighter II||Davis||$294,308|
|15.||Stephen Phillips||Firefighter II||Davis||$275,920|
|16.||William Cahill||Firefighter II||Davis||$275,814|
|18.||Ronald Zoghbi Jr.||Fire Captain||Davis||$265,576|
|38.||Joseph Tenney||Fire Division Chief||Davis||$241,709|
|44.||Landy Black||Police Chief||Davis||$236,908|
A few critical notes here.
First, the six highest paid employees in Davis were all firefighters. The only non-firefighter that made the top 50 list was outgoing police chief Landy Black.
Second, for those who wish to argue that overpayment of firefighters is endemic to the field and this is not an exclusive Davis phenomena, note that there are indeed 13 firefighters on the list, but six of them are from Davis.
Third, there are six firefighters listed from Davis, three from Sacramento, and two each from Folsom and Roseville.
Fourth, the list includes a Fire Battalion Chief, three fire division chiefs (one from Davis), five fire captains (two from Davis) and four firefighters (three from Davis).
Fifth, while some of the overtime was for statewide strike teams reimbursed by the state, the city HR person put that figure only at one-third.
Finally, even taking into account overtime, these individuals are still making over $200,000 without overtime.
After the Vanguard hammered the issue of overtime in 2009 and 2010, the Vanguard found that overtime use was way down in an article in June 11 – “Overtime Use Way Down in City of Davis.”
The Vanguard analysis found that “the city had achieved a good deal of savings through the reduction of overtime.” When the Vanguard ran an “initial study of the 100K Club of Davis, we noted that there were 61 members of that 100K Club of Davis. Of those, 48 were public safety employees and 38 were firefighters.” Those numbers would fall drastically, “not due to a pay cut, but rather due to a profound drop in overtime usage.”
In 2007-08, the city spent $1.55 million on overtime pay. By 2010-11, that number had fallen to $686 thousand.
At the time, Davis Police Chief Landy Black told the Vanguard, “The OT reductions we have been able to achieve came about through conscientious and concerted efforts here at the PD. City Hall has directed all departments to reduce OT and the PD has done a fairly good job at accomplishing it.”
But overtime pay is only a small part of this puzzle. Even without factoring overtime pay and looking at base salaries as well as total compensation, Davis firefighters are near the top.
In early December, the city council approved a 3 percent COLA for police officers, among other bargaining units. Fire has not agreed to a new contract since late 2009 and had one imposed four years later. They have not come to the bargaining table. The gap between fire and police compensation remains large.
—David M. Greenwald reporting