As San Jose braces for budget deficits in the coming year, the city broke its record in employee compensation last year with 63 employees earning an annual salary of more than $400,000.
Of the top 100 highest-paid city employees, 93 work in public safety—69 in the police department and 24 in the fire department. The only city employees making more than $500,000 work in public safety. City Manager Jennifer Maguire is the highest paid non-public safety employee, and fourth overall in top earners.
Just eight city employees earned more than $400,000 in annual pay and benefits in 2018, city data shows. That number increased to 34 in 2020 and jumped to 63 in 2022, according to a San José Spotlight analysis on employee salaries every two years between 2018-2022. City data shows a fire captain topped the list last year with roughly $566,733 in compensation and benefits.
Overtime wages also increased to $97 million—$19 million more than in 2020, data shows. Around half of those wages went to police officers, according to the analysis.
Members of the San Jose City Council do not rank near the top of the list, and on average net $130,000 to $150,000 annually, including benefits, according to city data. The mayor tends to earn considerably more than other staff. In 2022, then-Mayor Sam Liccardo earned more than $250,000 in pay and benefits.
The city employed about 8,400 people, including part-time employees, in 22 departments last year. The total cost of employment is $130 million.
These are the top highest paid 10 non-police or fire San Jose employees in 2022:
The data was collected from the city’s employee compensation portal. The “other” category includes sick and vacation payouts, among other cash payments. “Benefits” includes health care and retirement contributions.
Maguire has been with the city since 1991, starting in the budget office. After a number of promotions, she became the city manager in 2021.
Title: City Manager
Base pay: $384,387.90
Frimann joined the city attorney’s office in 2001 and became the city attorney in 2020.
Title: City Attorney
Base pay: $355,523.89
Palani joined San Jose as chief investment officer of San Jose’s retirement system in 2018.
Title: Chief Investment Officer
Base pay: $346,087.82
Rios has been with the city for 23 years, working as a recreation superintendent and director of the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department before joining the city manager’s office in 2018.
Title: Deputy City Manager
Base pay: $320,572.59
Colby has been working as an engineer in the Environmental Services Department for 13 years.
Title: Senior Automation Engineer II
Base pay: $150,306.24
Christopher (Kip) Harkness
Harkness has worked as deputy city manager since 2016.
Title: Deputy City Manager
Base pay: $316,616.92
Leland (Lee) Wilcox
Wilcox has worked for San Jose for 18 years. In 2021, he was promoted to assistant city manager.
Title: Assistant City Manager
Base pay: $320,676.59
Cano worked for San Jose in a variety of roles over the span of nearly 24 years, and served as public works director before leaving to work for Milpitas.
Title (as of Dec. 31, 2022): Public Works Director
Base pay: $284,309.16
Pena was named director of retirement services in 2013.
Title: Director of Retirement Services
Base pay: $319,104.76
Benjamin Johnson Jr.
Johnson was hired in 2012 as a senior deputy city attorney, promoted to chief deputy city attorney a few months later. He assumed his current position of assistant city attorney in 2020.
Title: Assistant City Attorney
Base pay: $284,948.32