When contemplating the many reasons cities in California and elsewhere are venturing closer to bankruptcy, look no further than the relatively lucrative and often-unjustifiable salaries bestowed on municipal employees – and the lofty pension benefits attached to the high pay.
One of the latest examples comes from the California coastal city of Hermosa Beach, where some community service staffers who collect money from parking meters and manage their operations – positions once widely known as “meter maids” – are making nearly $100,000 a year in total compensation, according to city documents.
Article Tab: Newport Beach outsourced parking meter collection and enforcement to a private firm last year.
There are 10 parking enforcement employees for the 1.3-square-mile beach city southwest of downtown Los Angeles, and they pull down some disproportionate compensation, considering their job functions. In fact, the two highest-earning employees for fiscal year 2011-12 are estimated to have made more than $92,000 and $93,000, respectively, according to city documents provided by Patrick “Kit” Bobko, one of five council members and who also serves as mayor pro tem. Those two have supervisory roles. The other eight parking-enforcement employees make from $67,367 to $84,267 in total compensation.
There are four qualifications for being a city “community service officer,” Bobko told me: “You have to be able to drive a standard transmission; you have to able to handle large animals; you have to read and interpret statutes and regulations; and you have a high school diploma or equivalent.”
According to the city’s job description, these community service officers are supposed “to enforce meter and other regulations governing the parking of vehicles on streets and municipal parking lots; to enforce animal regulations; may drive city buses; collect meters and perform minor meter repairs; perform related work as required.”