This community opinion was contributed by Hollister Councilman Marty Richman. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
The managing editor of the Hollister Free Lance newspaper, Barry Holtzclaw, writes that the State Controller pegs the average salary of Hollister city employees at $68,749 for FY 2018, “higher than neighboring Gilroy at $67,016…” and so she did, but it’s obvious that State Controller Betty Yee has found another sucker in Mr. Holtzclaw and he had no idea what those numbers reflected or he knew it but obscured the information. Incompetence or fake news? Take your pick.
First, the actual FY 2018 average salary for a City of Hollister full-time employees who made at least the annual minimum wage was $73,640 – a lot higher than the $68,749 claimed; however, for Gilroy full-time employees, it was $87,117, higher still.
Since Gilroy’s average full-time salary was 18.3 percent higher than Hollister’s average full-time salary, the Free Lance got it backwards.
Here is how that happens:
State Controller Yee has a vested interest in making the cost of public employment look artificially low, that’s why she included part-timers, temps and others who did not even make annual minimum wage in her calculations (check the data Mr. Holtzclaw!). Gilroy had 267 “regular” employees, but it also had 134 others, with average salaries of less than $7,000 for the whole year. Hollister had about 58 of these part-time low earners, so Gilroy is dividing their total compensation by 76 more low-earning employees than Hollister and they made practically nothing. That’s one way – a dishonest way – to bring the average down.
Of course, salary is only part of total wages for public employees and total wages are only part of total compensation. Following is the FY 2018 actual data for those making more than minimum wage ($22,360) for the year ($10.75 an hour for the FY).
Average Salary: Gilroy $87,117, Hollister $73,640
Average Total Wages (includes salary, overtime, lump sum, other): Gilroy $105,941, Hollister $94,339
Average Total Benefits (includes city paid retirement and healthcare): Gilroy $30,059, Hollister $25,428
Average Total Compensation (Total Wages + Total Benefits): Gilroy $136,000, Hollister $119,767. Hollister’s average compensation costs are $16,233 less than Gilroy’s per full-time employee.
Difference: Gilroy’s total compensation is 13.6 percent higher. For Hollister to compensate at that level it would have to add $2.7 million to the annual personnel budget.
Additionally, Gilroy had 14.8 percent more regular employees per 1,000 residents than Hollister had; we are doing the job with fewer employees. Adding 24 full-time personnel to get to the same ratio of employees per 1,000 as Gilroy would cost another $3.3 million a year.
Together that is an additional $6 million a year to just get Hollister to the same compensation and relative full-time staffing per 1,000 residents as Gilroy. Maybe the Free Lance should get out of the analysis business until they know what they are talking about.
The bottom line – total regular compensation spending in FY 2018: Gilroy $649 per capita, Hollister $498 per capita, and it’s the bottom line that counts.