By Diana Diamond
What’s wrong with this picture? PA city manager earns more than the president!Uploaded: May 5, 2020
It’s just our money that the City of Palo Alto is spending, so why should we get concerned? But I am, because this week I saw what the city staff and particularly the city manager made in 2019, I was troubled, and sadly shook my head.
City Manager Ed Shikada made $403,729 in 2019, not including pension and health benefits, according to a chart on city’s website. And the Palo Alto City Council in December also gave the city manager $3 million to purchase a home in the city, plus another $1 million loan for it. And he’s scheduled for another salary increase this year, as the Daily Post first reported.
By comparison, the President of the United States made $400,000 last year –so Shikada topped him by $3K. The president also gets a $50,000 expense account. I don’t know if Shikada has a limited spending account.
California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom made $201,000 last year, but his salary was increased to $210.000 last December, making him the highest paid governor in the country.
What is wrong with this picture? Why is Palo Alto’s city manager getting more than the president – or any other governor in the nation?
One could argue that costs are more in California, but $200,000 more? Agreed, Shikada will make mortgage payments, but on a house that was financed by the city. (It will return to the city when he leaves.) I doubt his workload or responsibilities are greater than a president or any governor. Plus, the entire city staff, including Shikada. has every other Friday off.
Many residents simply shrug their shoulders when looking at city salaries. But they shouldn’t, because this year we are suddenly facing a $20 to $39 “shortfall” that residents will have to pay for.
Let’s just face it. Cities around the Bay Area pay their employees more than most places – not only their managers but also their employees.
Other top earners in Palo Alto were Police Sgt. Adrienne Moore ($342,009) and a police agent $334,742 – plus pension and health benefits. Some employees earn overtime, or cash out on vacation time, car and housing allowances, which can boost an annual salary
The city has approximately 1,100 employees, five of whom made more than $300,000 uin``29019, 90 of whom made more than $200,000 last year, and 498 made $100,000+.
As I mentioned, the city is currently projecting a $20 to $39 million loss in revenue, because of the impact of the coronavirus in a town where most revenue-producing businesses are closed and people are not buying. Shikada has made a list of proposed services that can be cut, among them: fewer staff or hours at a fire station; fewer or no libraries; no traffic enforcement team; much higher fees for the Art Center, Children's Theatre and the Junior Museum and Zoo; fewer special events, like the Chili Cookoff and May Fete Parade and holiday tree lighting ceremony; having homeowners be financially responsible for sidewalks and much more, as Councilmember Alison Cormack described in her guest column in the Weekly. I didn’t see specific salary cuts proposed – and staff is still on full pay until the end of June.
Stanford Hospital has slashed employee pay by 20 percent, and jobs there are critical to the health of our community. There may be some layoffs or furloughs in PA some July – we’ll have to see. I’ll be watching.
So residents (taxpayers) will bear the brunt of the shortfall. But that’s the way it usually is in our fair city.