BY ELAINE GOODMAN
Daily Post Correspondent
Even though the city of Palo Alto trimmed its payroll by $2 million in 2021, to $124 million, the number of workers making more than $300,000 grew to seven, up from three in 2020.
In addition to employee pay, the city shelled out $17.7 million last year in worker benefits, such as medical, dental and vision coverage. The amount was roughly the same as the $17.6 million spent on benefits in 2020.
The city’s contribution toward employee pensions rose to $49.2 million, up from $47.6 million in 2020.
The city released the figures, for calendar year 2021, in the open data section of its website.
City Manager Ed Shikada remained the city’s highest-paid employee in 2021, with a total pay of $385,896. That’s up 2.4% from $376,708 in 2020.
Total pay includes regular pay, overtime, cashed out amounts such as vacation time, and other pay, such as car or housing allowances. It does not include employee benefits such as contributions to pensions or health coverage.
Shikada’s total pay included $351,362 in regular pay plus $34,534 in cash-out pay.
The city’s second-highest paid employee was Fire Capt. Mark vonAppen, whose total pay was $331,293 in 2021. VonAppen’s overtime pay of $168,381 was higher than his regular pay of $154,233. He also received $8,678 in cash-out and what’s described as “other pay.”
City Attorney Molly Stump, who was the second-highest paid city employee in 2020, was bumped down to the No. 3 spot last year, with $328,847 in total pay.
Three utilities department employees took the next three spots in the pay ranking. Assistant Utilities Director Tomm Marshal made $328,107 in total pay last year, which included $95,552 in other pay. That was the highest amount of other pay received by a city employee last year.
Total pay for Utilities Director Dean Batchelor was $325,497. Utilities Compliance Manager Debra Lloyd-Zanetti’s total pay of $309,843 included $92,005 in other pay, the second-highest amount for a city employee last year.
VonAppen received the largest amount of overtime pay among city employees last year, followed by Fire Capt. Matthew Goglio, whose total pay of $306,218 included $143,780 in overtime. The city paid a total of $7.7 million in overtime in 2021.
Police Chief Robert Jonsen slipped out of the $300K club last year. After receiving $309,266 in 2020, Jonsen’s total pay fell to $292,574 last year. The police chief’s regular pay increased by $3,020 last year, but he did not receive $19,385 in other pay that he was paid in 2020.
The $124 million that the city spent on payroll last year was down 1.6% compared to $126 million in 2020. Payroll spending in 2020 was the same as in 2019, as the city grappled with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the city’s payroll costs are likely to start increasing.
Proposed budget released
Last week, Shikada released his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which includes a plan for adding back some of the positions cut during the pandemic.
Full-time and part-time positions amounting to about 104 full-time equivalents, or FTEs, were slashed during the pandemic, according to the budget document. The City Council approved adding back 20 FTEs during this fiscal year. Shikada has proposed bringing back another 39 FTEs in the new fiscal year for a total of 1,015 city positions. That’s still lower than pre-pandemic staffing levels, he said.
Shikada described his spending plan as a “transitional budget.”
“It is bridging a period of significant reductions in the pandemic to a new phase as we rebuild,” he said.