While Richmond struggles to close a $10.2 million budget deficit that will unavoidably lead to cuts in vital city services, more than 20 city employees are earning more than $300,000 in salary and benefits while another 200-plus received in excess of $200,000.
And while the average Richmond full-time employee earns $130,000 in total compensation, the average resident earns less than $40,000 in the private sector.
These figures were brought up in a guest commentary published in the East Bay Times on Wednesday. The article was penned by Ben Steinberg, of Richmond, and Jack Weir, president of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association.
“In recent years the city has shifted resources away from providing municipal services to residents while increasing funding for employee compensation,” they said, adding, “Rather than reform an unsustainable salary structure at that time, Richmond just kicked the can down the road.”
And it’s not just the high pay, but the high numbers of employees, that’s concerning. Richmond’s 106,000 residents are served by 735 full-time employees, while nearby Concord’s 125,000 residents are served by 319.
“The city is asking its distressed, low-income population to foot an ever-growing bill while reducing services like street paving and library hours,” according to the guest commentary.
But deep cuts to city programs won’t achieve a balanced budget without addressing the bloated costs for city workers, they said.
A good case-in-point is the passage of Measure U, a half-cent sales tax that was initially aimed at addressing shoddy roads. Those tax dollars ended up being redirected to plugging up the budget deficit.
“If the city manager and City Council cannot rein in these excessive costs, Richmond residents should demand an independent review of Richmond’s salary structure and the makeup of its workforce,” Steinberg and Weir argued.