Editor's note: Total cost of employment has been recalculated.
Overtime hours, cash outs and decades on the job are possible reasons why many police and fire personnel last year earned more than the city's top administrators.
The top earner, a retiring police officer, was the only city employee who earned more than the city manager, thanks to a large cash out—which could have been unused sick days or vacation days. Officer Kristopher Krauss retired after three decades of service, according to the head of the police officers' union, Matt Toffey.
The city of Milpitas and the school district both submitted information in response to public records requests.
The city of Milpitas 10-highest earners for 2010:Name Position Base Other Gross Contribution to pension Employee contribution to 401(k), or similar Total cost of employment Strauss, Kristopher* Police Officer $66,238 $208,385 $274,623 $19,093 $0 $294,222 Williams, Thomas City Manager $246,869 $573 $248,342 $56,165 $900 $309,483 Graham, Dennis Chief of Police $206,142 $27,641 $234,683 $47,490 $900 $283,985 Vaughn, Melvin Fire Battalion Chief $206,142 $94,757 $223,840 $38,251 $600 $262,769 Gordon, Ronald Police Sergeant $126,655 $90,538 $217,194 $37,593 $0 $251,898 Evans, Gary Fire Engineer $104,808 $112,050 $217,593 $30,545 $540 $255,699 Mack, Gregory Police Sergeant $126,656 $76,077 $202,733 $35,777 $0 $239,422 Garcia, Edward Fire Captain $121,550 $78,099 $200,483 $32,349 $600 $236,394 Pangelinan, Steven Police Commander $172,376 $20,802 $194,078 $39,938 $900 $238,621 Pang, Charlotte Police Commander $173,146 $18,875 $192,921 $40,223 $900 $237,571 *retired
So what is the police union doing to save the city money?
"We're continuing with our 7 percent furloughs," said Sgt. Matt Toffey, president of the Milpitas police officers union. Police had agreed to the pay cut last year and are continuing this year "with little hesitation," he said.
Police commanders are not part of the union. Three police commanders make more in base salary than most city administrators, making slightly less than the city attorney but more than the director of financial services.
Fire battalion chiefs are not in the union, either. The highest-earning fire personnel, Melvin Vaughn, was promoted from his rank as captain last year. Before the promotion, he received addition compensation for working out of class, or as an acting battalion chief, according to the union president.
The fire personnel who earned the most last year have served for more than two decades, according to firefighters' union president Steve King. Longevity pay is negotiated into the union contact with the city that factors 1.2-4.6 percent on top of the base pay after the following years of employment: 10, 15, 20, 25, 26 and 27.
"Milpitas used to be a stepping stone for other fire departments," said King. Now they stay, he said.
"When these guys put in 25 years plus, I feel like they've earned their salaries," he said.
King also factors overtime pay into the money that the highest paid firefighters took home in 2010.
"We tend to make due with the staffing levels that we have," he said. The current agreement with the city is 12 vacancies, which doesn't leave room for vacations, workers comp and maternity leave, he said.
"If I take a vacation, someone has to backfill that overtime," he said. "If everything is perfect, nobody takes a leave, nobody got sick and nobody got hurt, that works out fine."