Why Water/Energy Costs So Much in L.A.: Security Guard “Earns” $197,000 in a Year

Government pay is out of sight. While private security guards get paid minimum wage to $50,000 a year, do the same work for government and you can manipulate the system to get almost $200,000 a year.

“The data reveals that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) security officer David Laser more than tripled his $63,944 salary with over $100,000 in overtime pay (OT) and an additional $32,686 in other pay, for total wages of $197,042.

The three highest OT payouts amongst LA county special district workers all went to DWP employees:

  1. DWP electric distribution mechanic supervisor Joseph Strafford: $225,459
  2. DWP steam plant maintenance supervisor Thomas Conner: $143,202
  3. DWP electric distribution mechanic supervisor Daniel Haerle: $140,648

Imagine, a $63,000 a year job brings home $197,000—only in government. This is out of control. More reason to outsource services, like security, landscaping, planning and much more, to the free market. Government is creating a new generation of rich—the government employees. And, creating a new generation of poor—the taxpayers.

WhiteHouseMoney

DWP security guard triples $64,000 salary to $197,000 with OT, other pay

Robert Fellner, Transparent California, 2/8/16

Today, Transparent California released 2014 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for 38 of Los Angeles County’s largest special districts, representing 95 percent of all Los Angeles County special district workers.

The data reveals that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) security officer David Laser more than tripled his $63,944 salary with over $100,000 in overtime pay (OT) and an additional $32,686 in other pay, for total wages of $197,042.

The three highest OT payouts amongst LA county special district workers all went to DWP employees:

  1. DWP electric distribution mechanic supervisor Joseph Strafford: $225,459
  2. DWP steam plant maintenance supervisor Thomas Conner: $143,202
  3. DWP electric distribution mechanic supervisor Daniel Haerle: $140,648

Strafford’s $225,459 OT payout was the 5th highest out of the 2.35 million 2014 salary records currently on TransparentCalifornia.com.

The DWP did not provide benefits data on an individual employee level and, as such, are unrepresented amongst the top special districts with the highest average employee compensation packages.

LA County special districts

The three Los Angeles County special districts with the highest average compensation packages for full-time, year-round employees were:

  1. Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD): $172,949
  2. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: $168,135
  3. West Basin Municipal Water District: $162,845

Click here to view this information for all 38 Los Angeles County special districts surveyed.

WRD’s highest average compensation package was, in large part, due to an average benefits cost of $60,958 per full-time employee — the highest of any district surveyed.

The three highest-compensated Los Angeles County special district workers were:

  1. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger: $520,422
  2. Southern California Association of Governments executive director Hasan Ikhrata: $515,893
  3. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief executive Richard Thorpe: $485,990

DWP

In addition to Laser, DWP steam plant assistant Clayton Louie more than tripled his $59,255 salary to $178,685, with an additional $106,700 in OT and nearly $13,000 in other pay.

In total, nearly 1,200 DWP employees increased their salary by at least 50 percent with OT and other pay.

The average full-time, year-round DWP worker received $118,115 in wages.

While the DWP did not provide benefits data on an employee level, aggregate data obtained from actuarial reports suggests an average cost of nearly $50,000 per employee for retirement benefits. Additionally, the DWP spent an average $18,125 per employee on health benefits, according to the city controller’s office.

Medical and retirement benefits that cost 5 and 15 times more, respectively, than what the median private employer pays demonstrates why the public needs to receive complete compensation data, says Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“Largely shrouded from public view, the cost of government workers’ benefits has ballooned to unsustainable heights, crippling local agencies and burdening taxpayers.

The average full-time DWP employee, for example, is costing ratepayers an amount much closer to $185,000 than the $118,000 the pay-only data suggests.”

To view the entire dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, visit TransparentCalifornia.com

Compensation is defined as total wages plus the employer cost of retirement and health benefits. Full-time, year-round employees are defined as those receiving a salary equal or greater than the “annual salary minimum” reported.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.