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What Are Your City Leaders Making?

— Months ahead of state efforts to post municipal employee’s salaries online, KPBS has gathered salary data for the mayors, city managers and City Council members of all 18 cities in San Diego County. We've compared salary information to population in the map and charts below.

You can also see our breakdown of what city leaders cost to each resident annually here.

Click on the markers to see what city leaders are earning.

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San Diego County City Salaries

View San Diego County City Salaries in a larger map

Aired 8/5/10

Months ahead of state efforts to post municipal employee’s salaries online, KPBS has gathered salary data for the mayors, city managers and City Council members of all 18 cities in San Diego County.

The mayor of Bell was earning $100,000 for leading a city of fewer than 40,000 people.

In San Diego County, only the mayors of San Diego and Chula Vista make more than $100,000. Those cities have 1.3 million and 223,000 residents, respectively.

Poway and Imperial Beach, which are closest in size to the city of Bell, pay their mayors around $13,000 a year.

Only three cities in the County have full time mayors: San Diego, Chula Vista and National City. The highest salary, $118,000, goes to the mayor of Chula Vista.

When considering councilmembers' salaries, it is important to note that San Diego is the only city where councilmembers officially work full-time. For that, they receive $75,000 a year. Other councilmembers make from $47,000 in Chula Vista to less than $4,000 in the small city of Del Mar.

Councilmembers' salaries are sometimes augmented by extra pay for attending meetings of separate committees and commissions.

Jessica Levinson is the director of political reform at the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. She says salaries alone leave out a crucial factor: benefits.

“Salaries can represent a relatively small proportion of what employees take home,” Levinson said. “That’s why I think it’s vitally important to disclose in an accurate, digestible and comprehensible way what city officials are taking home as a result of their job.”

Levinson says she hopes the State Controller John Chiang will reveal benefits as well as salaries on his website. She says guaranteed pensions, free health care and perks like free cell phones and travel money can make holding public office more lucrative than it appears.

KPBS did collect information on benefits, but the benefits vary so widely across cities in the County that they are not included in our tables.

Data was originally embedded within interactive charts but the data was lost after Swivel went out of business.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | August 6, 2010 at 3:14 p.m. ― 6 years, 6 months ago

Very interesting data. Thank you KPBS for compiling this.

Must be nice to be the City Manager of Del Mar. 4,500 people and you make $180,000 per year. That's $40 out of the pocket of every man, woman, and child in Del Mar going directly into the pocket of Karen Brust every year.

Tell us Karen Brust, do you feel good making 72% of the salary of the City Manager of San Diego, yet you manage a city that is 0.3% the size?

Must be nice making so much for so little.

Same goes for you Imperial Beach City Manager Gary Brown.

City Manager of Chula Vista Jim Sandoval makes almost the same a San Diego's CM while managing a population 1/6th the size.

City Manager of National City Chris Zapata is living large just the same.

City Manager of La Mesa David Witt found a nice place to relax.

Lemon Grove City Manager Graham Mitchel posts on his official page "The City Manager’s Office gets things done while having fun." Yeah, I bet Mr. Six Figures for a tiny town of 24,000.

El Cajon City Manager Kathi Henry is having fun in the sun.

How about William Garrett who makes a whopping $278,292 a year as the RETIRED City Manager of El Cajon. Need Proof?

Corruption from one end to the other and everywhere in between.

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