IRVINE ( — Public employees of the city of Irvine earned total compensation packages last year that averaged nearly $150,000 per year including the cost of benefits, according to a study released Tuesday.

The report published by the California Public Policy Center (CPPC) shows the average full-time city employee made $143,691 in total compensation during 2012, according to records provided to the CPPC by the city’s own payroll department.

The median total compensation — which means that exactly half of the employees made less than this amount, and half made more — was $133,782 during 2012.

These figures stand in stark contrast to the California State Controller’s reported “average wages” for Irvine’s city employees, which is reported to be only $48,506 per year — an amount that is restricted to base wages and includes part-time employees in the average, but does not include any direct benefits paid.

In addition to Irvine, compensation studies in Costa Mesa and Anaheim found the average total compensation for employees of those cities ranges between $140,000 and $150,000 per year, according to the CPPC.

While the State Controller’s office estimated the cost per resident and per household to pay Irvine’s city employees was approximately $337 per year, the actual cost nearly doubles to $634 per year when the costs of benefits and county firefighting services are included.

“It is vital for journalists, politicians and voters to fully understand the concept of total compensation,” said the study’s author, financial analyst Ed Ring.

“Because base wages and salaries are only part of what workers earn, any costs for any direct benefits provided an employee that are paid for by the employer are part of that worker’s total compensation, and this amount is the only truly meaningful measurement that can be used when comparing rates of pay in the public sector to rates of pay in the private sector,” Ring added.

Click here to read the study by the California Public Policy Center.

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