County Government's Top-Paid Officials Listed by State Controller

RIVERSIDE (CNS) - The 10 highest paid officials in Riverside County government last year were working mainly in law enforcement and health care, according to data published today by the California State Controller's Office. 

State Controller Betty Yee released the 2017 ``Government Compensation in California'' report to show how taxpayer funds were spent, and who was receiving what for being on the public payroll. The data, available at, indicated that the largest composite salary in 2017 -- $614,828 -- went to an assistant sheriff, who was not identified. The dollar amount included base pay, ``lump sum'' distributions, such as for unused vacation time, per diem allowances and related disbursals, according to the controller's office. 

The tabulation listed Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff at No. 59, with $294,520 -- behind a chief deputy, three lieutenants and three captains. 

The highest paid captain, who was not named and listed at No. 6, collected $389,719, two-thirds of which was in a lump sum categorized as ``one-time'' cash compensation tied to vacation and sick leave redemption. 

In government speak, when a subordinate makes more than the superior, it's called ``compaction.'' The Riverside County Board of Supervisors in 2014 hiked Sniff's salary in an attempt to fix the disparity. Not one elected county official appeared in the top 25 of the controller's list for Riverside County. Board members were beyond the 700-mark in annual compensation packages, making slightly less than a clinical pharmacist at the Riverside University Health System, who earned $177,000 in 2017. 

Along with the assistant sheriff and the sheriff's captain, a county executive officer, two staff psychiatrists at the Department of Mental Health, that agency's medical director, a deputy county counsel, a human resources executive, RUHS CEO Zareh Sarrafian and RUHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Arnold Tabuenca rounded out the top 10. 

The psychiatrists averaged $434,000 in 2017, with easily a third of that compensation stemming from overtime hours, figures showed. Tabuenca received $414,514 in total compensation -- 8 percent more than in 2016 -- making him the seventh-highest paid official in county government. Sarrafian took in $403,933 in 2017, landing him at No. 9, according to the report. 

The controller's website indicated the average pay for a county employee last year was $60,809. The county employs just over 22,000 people, and roughly $1.56 billion in total wages were paid in 2017.

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