Santa Ana City Manager Will Receive Big Salary and Pension

Santa Ana City Manager David Cavazos shakes hands with Mayor Miguel Pulido while Councilwoman Michele Martinez looks on. (Photo by: Adam Elmahrek)

Santa Ana City Manager David Cavazos shakes hands with Mayor Miguel Pulido while Councilwoman Michele Martinez looks on. (Photo by: Adam Elmahrek)

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In addition to more than $550,000 in compensation in the coming year from Santa Ana, new City Manager David Cavazos is also set to begin collecting a six-figure annual pension from Phoenix, according to a report in the Arizona Republic newspaper.

The 53-year-old Cavazos worked at Phoenix City Hall for 26 years and was city manager for the last four, which puts him in line for an annual pension of at least $130,000. His income in the coming year will be at minimum about $700,000 and perhaps significantly higher.

Cavazos also helped himself, both in terms of his pension and new salary, by negotiating last year for a controversial $78,000 pay raise. The Phoenix City Council agreed to the raise, more than a 30-percent increase, because council members credited him with closing a massive budget shortfall and indicated they didn’t want to lose him to another city.

But within months of receiving his raise, Cavazos was applying for the city manager opening in Santa Ana. The raise not only increased the pension Phoenix taxpayers will pay him but also allowed him to demand a $315,000 annual salary from Santa Ana taxpayers, which is more than the city has ever paid to its top bureaucrat.

Paul Walters, the city’s previous city manager, was paid $265,000, plus benefits.

In addition to his salary, the Santa Ana City Council also agreed to give Cavazos tens of thousands of dollars in housing allowance as a condition of his residing in Santa Ana, which has a higher cost of living than Phoenix. When the housing allowance, health and other benefits are added in, Cavazos is set to draw $558,625, $515,395 and $515,895 during the next three years respectively.

His contract with Santa Ana is officially set to take effect Oct. 21.

It is difficult to determine exactly what Cavazos’ pension payment from Phoenix will be, because a lot goes into calculating a pension. But assuming that his years of service are all retirement eligible, his annual pension could be more than $130,000, according to calculations based on documents on the city of Phoenix website.

However, it is likely to be much more, because “Phoenix allows employees to add deferred compensation, fringe and travel allowances, and sick leave into their benefit calculations to boost their pensions,” the Republic reported.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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