California City Manager Paid $677,172 Runs Town of 5,000

A California desert town with a population of little more than 5,000 paid its city manager $677,172 last year, making him the most well-compensated city worker in the most populous U.S. state, according to new data released by the state’s controller.

The town of Indian Wells near Palm Springs in Riverside County, 120 miles (199 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, granted former city manager Greg Johnson $230,697 in salary and another $446,475 in “other pay” according to the data released yesterday. The other pay was a severance package.

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Cities in California spent more than $17.6 billion on wages to public employees last year, down from $18.2 billion the previous year, according to data released by Controller John Chiang. The average pay for city employees in California was $61,259. Cities and counties combined paid $37.6 billion.

The cities paid $285 million to workers for vacation and leave time they had accrued last year, according to the data. That compared to the $275 million California paid in lump sum checks to state workers last year, data from Chiang shows.

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The Indian Wells interim city manager, Roderick Wood, and Mayor Mary Roche didn’t respond to telephone calls seeking comment on Johnson’s pay. Johnson couldn’t be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at

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