The $501,457 that Santana reported in wages in 2019 topped the salary of San Jose City Manager Dave Sykes in the nation’s 10th largest city by more than $160,000 last year.
Her compensation also far exceeded that of Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. And it topped the annual pay of Palo Alto City Manager Ed Shikada by nearly $100,000.
Yee’s recently released report on the pay of the nearly 330,000 workers in 470 California cities shows that police and firefighters continue to top other city workers in pay, and that the gaps between top managers and their employees is widening.
In Santa Clara, a city that employs 1,920 people to serve a population of nearly 130,000, 28 municipal workers earned more than $300,000 in 2019. That’s more than double the number of their San Jose counterparts who earned as much in 2018.
More than 250 Santa Clara city employees earned more than $200,000 in 2019, Yee reported. That’s nearly 13 percent of the city’s workforce.
By contrast, under 5 percent of San Jose city employees earned more than $200,000 in 2018, the state reported. Sykes earned $336,343 in 2018.
In pricy Palo Alto, Shikada was paid $403,729 in 2019, according to the state report. Smith, who boasts both medical and law degrees and manages nearly 25,000 employees, earned $373,748 in 2019.
San Jose and Campbell employee compensation data was not included in this year's report. Yee said both cities were among six in the state whose submissions were "non-compliant," with no further explanation. The salary data has been required by law since 2010 to be submitted to the controller each October. The two cities submitted wage data in 2018.
The city manager of Montebello in eastern Los Angeles County was the highest paid in the state last year, earning $572,789.
Palo Alto and Redwood City ranked in the top 20 California cities in average annual wage per employee, at $86,665 and $87,071, respectively in 2019. Santa Clara ranked 24th, with an average annual pay of $84,103 per employee.
Two years ago, 16 San Jose employees earned more than $300,000, while 389 employees earned more than $200,000—less than 5 percent of the county workforce.
All but three of the $300,000 annual wage earners in San Jose were police officers, including Chief Eddie Garcia, who was paid $306,260 in 2018—the 14th highest wage-earner in the city. Other high non-police wages in San Jose in 2018 went to City Manager Dave Sykes at $336,343 and Assistant City Manager Jennifer Maguire at $316,900. Plus, a fire department battalion chief earned $345,174.
In Santa Clara, membership in the city’s 300K Club nearly doubled last year, as the number of employees with $300,000-plus annual salaries grew from 15 to 28.
The biggest wage payout in Mission City in 2019 went to departing police Chief Michael Sellers, who collected back vacation and sick pay on top of his salary when he resigned in September, for a total of $585,363.
Santa Clara’s 300K Club included 10 police officers, seven workers in the city-owned electric utility, five fire department officers, and three of Santana’s staffers in the city manager’s office, Not included in the manager’s office $300,000-per-year totals were two assistant city managers who were hired after the state controller reporting date.
In addition to the police and fire departments, Santa Clara’s unique city-owned utility occupies a big portion of the city payroll, especially in higher-paid positions.
One technician earned $453,691 in 2019, and a line worker was paid $407,666, according to Yee’s report. Chief Electric Utility Officer Manuel Pineda was paid $376,494; one of his ‘troubleshooters’ was paid $336,566. Another 22 electric utility technicians were paid between $200,000 and $300,000 in 2019.
In addition to three assistant city managers with salaries topping $300,000, Santana reported two “assistant to the city manager” positions with pay more than $215,000.
Santana lost a $3,750 monthly housing allowance in 2020, but the City Council voted early this year to give her an 11 percent raise, boosting her base pay to $448,492.
When Councilman Raj Chahal cast the only “no” vote for Santana’s 2020 raise, he told his fellow colleagues on the dais: “I do not think it is prudent to spend this type of money on this type of contract. Our compensation package is way, way more than any city.”
Santana has multiple administrative duties, serving not only as head of the administrative branch of the city, but also oversees the city's electric utility, Silicon Valley Power, and acts as the executive director of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority.
She was hired in late 2017 for $373,000 from Sunnyvale, where she was the top administrator for three years. Before that, she worked as city administrator in Oakland and as a high-ranking official at San Jose City Hall.