By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
State Controller John Chiang is assembling a database of public sector salaries and pensions, but data for three Sonoma County cities is missing from the list.
Santa Rosa and Cloverdale are listed as failing to file the information with the state by last week’s deadline, while Petaluma is listed as not filing its report properly. All three cities said the delays were minor and either already had been fixed or would be soon.
Santa Rosa was in the middle of a complicated migration to a new payroll system last week, which made the data request a challenge. “The problem was we didn’t have the information segregated in the way they wanted to have it,” said Santa Rosa City Manager Kathy Millison.
The information was in the process of being sent Monday evening, said interim CFO Bruce McConnell.
Cloverdale, the county’s second smallest city, had a similar challenge. Its payroll system isn’t as sophisticated as those in larger cities, said City Manager Nina Regor. “We fully intend to be in compliance as quickly as we can,” Regor said.
A Petaluma employee made an error in that city’s submission, but it was fixed the very next day, said interim Director of Finance Sandra Sato. “It was just a small technical violation,” she said.
A fourth agency, Sonoma County, was listed as missing the deadline, but spokesman Jim Leddy said the county submitted its information on time. The state controller’s office has acknowledged the error and will remove the county from the list of “noncompliant” agencies, Leddy said.
Chiang launched the effort after a corruption scandal rocked the city of Bell, whose city manager was making $1.5 million a year and city councilmembers were drawing $100,000 salaries.
Santa Rosa, by comparison, is more than four times the size of Bell, but its city manager makes $200,000 and its council members make $800 a month.
Chiang ordered cities and counties to submit information about the salaries, pension benefits and other compensation of more than 594,000 employees throughout California. Cities and counties already are required to submit annual budget information to Chiang’s office.
The additional information includes salary ranges for each position in 2009, actual salary, the formula used to compute pensions, the employee’s share of pension costs, deferred compensation and health, dental and vision benefits. It does not include names of employees.
“The absence of transparency and accountability invites corruption, self-dealing and the abuse of public funds,” said Chiang in a release. “This website will help taxpayers scrutinize local government compensation.”
The database can be found at: lgcr.sco.ca.gov/ListCities.aspx.
The site went live Oct. 21 and will be updated weekly as new information comes in, said spokeswoman Hallye Jordan.
There is a $5,000 fine for late filings, but if agencies are making a good-faith effort to assemble the data, fines are unlikely in the near term, she said.