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2018 Highest Paid City Employee Report

Does your city pay its employees more than the state pays the Governor?

In an analysis of 2017 employee compensation of the 50 largest cities in the state of Utah, it was found that 29 of the 50 cities pay at least one employee more than Governor Gary Herbert’s annual total compensation. The governor’s salary, including wages and benefits, in 2017 was $190,187.59. The highest paid city employee in 2017 was an employee in Provo City’s public works department that was paid $318,530.98. The Provo employee’s salary was exceptionally higher than previous years as the employee received over $88,000 in “leave pay” in 2017. The second highest paid employee is the Chief of Police for Salt Lake City, who earned $272,551.12 in 2017. The third highest paid employee is the city manager of West Valley City who was paid $259,277.56.

City Managers, City Attorneys and Police Chiefs are the employees that tend to receive the highest pay at the city level. In 35 of the 50 cities, the City Manager ranked in the top three of the highest paid employee in the city. The city manager, or city administrator, is typically the top day-to-day employee over a city and reports to the city council and mayor.

Elected officials for most of the cities receive relatively modest compensation and did not rank in the highest paid employees for the 50 cities with the exception of two cities. The mayors of Tooele and Ogden both are in the top three in compensation for their city. Unelected employees in almost every city of the 50 examined represented the top wage and benefit earners.

The same can be said for the Governor’s office. While the Governor receives more than $190,000 in total compensation, his staff actually earns more. In 2017, the governor’s chief of staff was compensated $230,694.60. The executive director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget also made more than the state’s top elected official as they were compensated $225,258.38 last year.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Utah’s median household income to be $62,518. For all 50 cities that were reviewed, the top three highest compensated employees all received total compensation greater than $100,000.

Data for the analysis was taken from the Utah Public Finance Website ( Figures were taken from the 2017 employee compensation tabs contained on the website.

Utah cities with at least one employee paid more than the governor:

American Fork               Layton                       Provo                      Spanish Fork
Bountiful                         Lehi                            Riverton                 Springville
Clearfield                         Logan                        Roy                          St. George
Clinton                             Midvale                     Salt Lake City        West Jordan
Cottonwood Heights     Murray                      Sandy                      West Valley City
Draper                              North Salt Lake       Saratoga Springs
Farmington                     Ogden                        South Jordan
Kaysville                          Orem                          South Salt Lake

Find the top paid employees in your city by reading our report here

3 Responses to “2018 Highest Paid City Employee Report”

  1. Bruce D Blanchard says:

    There are some sewer district managers who also rank up there in the $250,000 plus area: Mount Olympus Improvement District and Cottonwood Improvement District

  2. Wade says:

    It use to be working for state and local government was with the expectation of lower than market pay but much better hours and it was difficult to lose your job. Now it appears they receive much better hours, its hard to lose their job and their pay is better than the private sector. Do we wonder why they have to keep raising taxes? As a percentage of total income, they keep raising the amount taken. At some point this has to stop. I think it has far exceeded that ‘point’.

  3. City Manager says:

    So I would like to clarify a few things. I believe you may be correct that it used to be the case of less pay, secure job, and good hours. Today I know I have a job from council meeting to council meeting. There has been a significant turnover in the profession in the past 5 years. There is no longer the secure job. As for the hours I work in the office 50 hours a week and I’m on call 24/7. I get questions about city business wherever I go, and can’t even go to church without being approached with a complaint or some question about city business. A significant difference between elected council and a city manager is level of expertise. A council is elected based on their popularity and ideas. Then together they hire a City Manager that is trained and educated to lead the employee to accomplish the desires of the council. Most City Managers have a Masters Degree, and years of experience. As the City Manager, I have brought into the city, from grants, more then sales tax and property tax combined each year I have been employed. The pay of a City Manager, just like a CEO, should be based on their qualifications and the council that employees them.

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