Santa Monica City Council Approves Compensation Philosophy

July 25, 2018 11:14 AM

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – At its meeting last night, the Santa Monica City Council approved a Compensation Philosophy for City of Santa Monica staff, implementing a key recommendation of the Moss Adams independent review of staff compensation. The philosophy aligns total compensation with the organization’s overall mission and goals to guide future policies and practices. The approach calls out the factors to be weighed in establishing, administering and modifying the compensation system for City staff, including fiscal sustainability and recruiting and retaining a high caliber workforce.

“This Compensation Philosophy represents longtime best practices undertaken by the City and includes clear guiding principles aligned with citywide goals,” said Mayor Ted Winterer. “It ties our commitment to competitive compensation to peer cities and to delivering the highest standards of service to the community. Adoption of the Compensation Philosophy is the first step in crystalizing the compensation review recommendations. The expeditious and unanimous adoption of the philosophy fortifies Council's commitment to proactive and transparent fiscal management.”

A Compensation Philosophy is not a specific policy and is designed to capture the philosophy of the City as an “employer of choice” in the 21st Century that also has a responsibility to its citizens to be fiscally responsible and transparent. The philosophy states “we are committed to promoting organizational and community values that include: exceptional service to the public; consistent and excellent performance; innovation; good fiscal, social, and environmental stewardship; and ethical behavior.”

The new guiding principles state, “The compensation program should aim to retain and attract high-skilled, high-performing staff capable of delivering the highest standards of public service to our community. The City will expect all staff to consistently perform to those high standards in their work performance, service, ethics and passion for public service. The City will also strive to administer pay and benefits in a way that is fair and transparent to all, that provides equal pay for equal work, and that does not take into consideration race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or other factors unrelated to work performance.”

This is the first action item that has been completed of the 13 recommendations identified in the employee compensation study conducted by the independent firm Moss Adams. The study is the most comprehensive ever undertaken by a Southern California city.

The compensation philosophy was distributed among the City’s eleven labor unions in its draft form and calls for evaluation every five years. Other public entities with compensation philosophies include San Luis Obispo and the County of Sonoma.

Read the Compensation Philosophy.

Background on the Compensation Study

On May 8, 2018, the Santa Monica City Council approved the implementation of the recommendations identified in the compensation and staffing. The independent study collected and analyzed four areas including wages and benefits, the wage and benefit setting process, staff and service levels, and public safety overtime. The study includedworkload data from comparable cities and, where appropriate, the private sector to find opportunities for improvement in the policies and practices for employee compensation as well as public safety overtime.

The report was informed by interviews with staff, labor unions and eleven peer cities, including data volunteered by Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Torrance and Pasadena, among others. Data was gathered from the peer cities and from the State Controller’s Office Government Compensation in California, and private sector cash compensation data was sourced from the Economic Research Institute.

For more information and to review the recommendations, read the May 9, 2018 press release.


Media Contact

Constance Farrell
Communications & Public Information Manager


City Council

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