How Much Employees In Moraga-Orinda Fire District Earn

The state controller's office has released a 2011 study on salaries and benefits received by county, city and special district employees

The Moraga-Orinda Fire District has the 10th highest average employee salary among the 1,504 special districts listed in a new public pay study.

The state Controller's Office has put the 2011 salary and benefits information on a website. It details city, county and special district payrolls.

The average salary for special districts across California was $54,468 a year. The annual salary in the Moraga-Orinda Fire District was almost double at $108,137.

Here's an overview of some of those numbers.

2011 Salary Study Moraga Orinda Fire Special Districts Employees 87 67 (average) Average Salary $108,137 $54,468 Total Wages $9.4 million $5.5 billion

Here's the top 10 wage earners in the Moraga-Orinda Fire District for 2011. The employees are listed by position only.

The salaries include regular pay, overtime, lump sums and other payments. The benefits and pension are what the district contributed to the employee's plan.

Employee Salary Benefits Pension Division Chief 20 Years $242,616 $15,706 $5,925 Division Chief 20 Years $237,076 $15,706 $5,998 Fire Captain Paramedic I $210,147 $6,061 $4,618 Engineer Paramedic I $196,467 $14,115 $4,096 Battalion Chief $191,160 $15,706 $5,473 Fire Chief $189,600 $15,706 $7,413 Engineer Paramedic I $173,456 $15,706 $4,096 Fire Captain Paramedic I $167,838 $15,706 $4,618 Battalion Chief $167,828 $15,706 $4,951 Engineer Paramedic II $163,212 $15,706 $3,846
Steve Cohn March 06, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Your friendly CoCo assessor last year unilaterally reassessed 1,500 Orinda homes down 7% to $375 per square foot average this year when the average sales price in Orinda in the first half of 2012 was over $410. This cost the agencies that get property tax revenue over $1 million in revenue, half of which are the school systems. This was just Orinda. I am pretty sure the same happened in Moraga, Lafayette, Alamo, etc.
Chris Nicholson March 06, 2013 at 09:34 PM
@Janet: I tend to agree with your Realpolitik analysis. If it is true that (i) Orinda can't "unplug" our tax revenues from MOFD without assuming (a portion of) all liabilities, (ii) vested pension obligations are senior to current operations budget and (iii) expected MOFD revenue will fully fund existing benefits (but only reduced services), then the logical thing to do is to rip the bandaid off as soon as possible. If we "own the hole," we should stop digging (meaning freeze/cap the cost of prior largesse and rebuild with rational/sustainable staffing/compensation.service levels. I assume that "working without a contract" means that there is no current contract which guarantees particular levels of FUTURE comp and benefits. Therefore, Orinda should make a credible threat to MOFD: "Hit these parameters for your operating activities or we will pull out." The only reason to NOT do this is if status quo tax/revenue flows to MOFD are insufficient to fully pay vested benefits (i.e, both "balance sheet insolvent" and "liquidity insolvent.") With the fake actuarial calcs and property values on the rise, I can't imagine that this is the case (that we can force them into BK and that a BK would help anything)....
Janet Maiorana March 06, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Carol. With detachment, Orinda citizens would form a stand alone Orinda Fire District NOT affiliated with the Orinda City Council. Taxpayers in Orinda would be responsible for MOFD unfunded liabilites generated by the number of MOFD personnel IN Orinda. Moraga citizens would be responsible for the MOFD unfunded liabilities genenerated by the mumber of MOFD personnel IN Moraga. This frees Orinda from subsidizing Moraga, and will save Orinda taxpayers millions of dollars now and in the future. In 1992, before MOFD was formed, Moraga passed a 30 cent fire flow protection tax for their Fire District. After forming MOFD in 1997, Moraga never had to use the 30 cent tax beyond the 6 cent Fire Flow Tax. Why? Because Orinda subsidized Moraga from day one of inception of MOFD. Anyone using 6th grade arithmentic could come up with all sorts of figures showing Orinda subsidizes Moraga. One 2010 example: Orinda paid $957,181 for each of Orinda firefighters. Moraga paid $724,508 for each of their firefighters. Orinda paid $232,673 more for each firefighter than Moraga. Using Moraga's cost per firefighter Orinda would have saved $2,559,940 annually or approximately, $25 million or the last 10 years. This disparity shows Moraga needs Orinda taxes so they do not have to pay their fair share and use their 30 Fire Flow Tax. Orinda taxpayers continue going deeper in debt subsidizing Moraga. The results of continuing with MOFD are not pretty.
Carol Penskar March 07, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Janet: This statement of yours is simply wrong: "Orinda City taxpayers and Orinda MOFD taxpayers are going to have to pay unfunded liabilities whether we detach OR stay with MOFD. " My very point is that Orinda taxpayers DO NOT have to pay the liabilities if they STAY with MOFD. I don't know how I can be any more clear on this fact! Please see explanations I have posted in this thread, especially my answer to the bankruptcy question. And I am done responding to this question of yours because you don't seem to grasp the difference in liability assumption between staying and detaching. To Chris N: Your "assumption" about the expired contract is also wrong. Absent a new contract, the provisions of the expired contract are in *full force*. Which means that the new firefighters are coming in at the unsustainable level of the expired contract. The CC Sheriff, from which Orinda contracts for police, have been bringing in new hires at a lower pension level for about 3 years now. This is starting to benefit Orinda in the rates it pays for police. This protracted MOFD stalling completely benefits the union.
Chris Nicholson March 07, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Carol: I get that "no contract" may be the same as "status quo," but that's kind of my point. In the current governance model, we have failed to reform the system. I think you'd agree that ultimately taxpayers are on the hook for unfunded liabilities (to the extent that current tax revenues are sufficient to fund, which seems to be the case). So why not dissolve the MOFD and take direct control in order to stop digging the hole? I understand that the union might strike / refuse to bargain, etc. I'll take that risk. Maybe your point is that Orinda (as a city) is not "FULLY" on the hook now and that it would need to assume (jointly and severally) the entirety of MOFD liabilities such that, if MOFD or Moraga defaulted, we would be on the hook. I am assuming that the liabilities can be fairly partitioned somehow. It seems easy enough to carve up the existing pension obligations. I guess I see your statement that Orinda is not on the hook as a bit of a distinction without a difference. Orinda redirects a lot of tax money to MOFD. It will fund the pensions. It just might not fund anything else. If we take direct control, that same tax money could be retains of could fund (our fair share or the) pensions and ongoing operations (in a cost-reduced model), right? Again, it is better if MOFD gets its own house in order, but that might only happen if faced with a credible threat of dissolution.
Carol Penskar March 07, 2013 at 01:25 AM
Chris: Like Janet, you are also confused. Orinda does not "redirect" a lot of money to MOFD. By statute, about 22% of your property tax dollars go *directly* to MOFD and about 7% goes *directly* to the City. Each "owns" their own revenue stream. Each is an *independent entity* with NO (as in zero, not on the hook in any way) fiscal obligation to the other. Unless MOFD can succeed at the ballot box, Orindans never have to pay more than the (approx) 22% and (as I wrote above) a bankruptcy court can not force us to do so. Please go back and re-read my above posts. Leave the pension problem at the independent agency MOFD and they have to fix it via the options I also wrote about above. Thank you. Now that I have explained it twice today, I decline to do so again.
Janet Maiorana March 07, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Carol, We agree to disagree.
Carol Penskar March 07, 2013 at 03:44 AM
@ Steve Cohn: About Moody's: Their rate isn't final, so take 5.5% for now. (They may actually come out lower.) But the issue is NOT whether MOFD needs to have its debt rated. The issue is: we need to be realistic, so what is a reasonable long run assumption, what CCCERA is using or 5.5%? I vote for 5.5%, which means the County and other agencies like MOFD that are in CCCERA have a much bigger hole than publicly reported. I certainly don't want to sign up for my share of $90 million, which is what a MOFD dissolution would effectively do. The Borenstein explanation is here: http://www.contracostatimes.com/daniel-borenstein/ci_22647063/daniel-borenstein-new-moodys-pension-accounting-rules-could
Carol Penskar March 07, 2013 at 06:08 AM
@ Chris N: I have been very clear that "my plan" is for the MOFD Board to fix this ASAP. The fix is a new labor contract with givebacks. My posts, and my guest CC Times editorial, have been unequivocal on this point which you now seem to embrace. LAFCO: If LAFCO comes in, this is what will happen. Orinda and its 22 cents will get folded into the insolvent Con Fire. Our taxes will be used to subsidize the rest of the county, the very reason MOFD was formed. Ask Lafayette how Con Fire is working out for them. With the closure of one of their fire stations, their subsidy to the county just rose dramatically, to several million dollars annually. LAFCO would *love* to grab us, as well. LAFCO can not raise our taxes; only a vote can do that. What LAFCO can, and will do, is give our revenues to Con Fire and then close MOFD stations. I am purely guessing but they could conclude, for example, that two stations in Lafayette and one each in Orinda and Moraga would be sufficient. Con Fire will certainly try again to raise taxes, which might win when the rest of the county realizes how much Lamorinda will pony up on their behalf. BTW, thanks for finally conceding my point on the City of Orinda. So, once again: "my plan" is to keep our money here, as many of our fire stations open as possible, and to put MOFD on a sustainable path with labor contract givebacks without a tax increase and without dragging down the City. What is your plan?
Chris F. March 07, 2013 at 07:01 AM
Everyone seems so passionate about this, With so much bickering over what we all feel is a "wrong" we should all just agree that we need a night of humor, Friday night is comedy night at the Orinda Theater, acts include Headliner Will Durst ("NY Times, Possibly the best comedian in the country") and Kabeezy, David Van Avermaete, Arthur Gaus just to name a few, Full Bar Service, tickets are starting at $25, I have a few $45 available for $35 if you want to send me a email
Diana Stephens March 07, 2013 at 02:41 PM
That is much more hostile than necessary. Your see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil approach would leave us blind, deaf and dumb. We need more community involvement, not less. Democracy and community activism are messy no doubt, and the public forum is no place for those without passion.
Chris Nicholson March 07, 2013 at 03:30 PM
I was ignorant of the mechanics of MOFD's relationship with the City of Orinda versus CoCo and LAFCO. Sorry. I have always agreed that MOFD BoD got us into this mess and should get us out. My core point was that we may need to issue a credible existential/dissolution threat to MOFD's favored position in order to effect needed change. You were wrong (or at least misleading) suggesting that Orindans will answer for MOFD liabilities on dissolution (any moreso than CoCo residents). You are ignoring the critical question: will our current tax dollars alone fully fund the massive unfunded liabilities (assuming services are cut to near zero)? If they won't then the MOFD is bankrupt/insolvent (by a fair balance sheet definition) and your fear of commingling is valid. I don't know if you are correct here. I think we agree that MOFD BoD should fix this via aggressive budget controls. Given the apparent power dynamics between the BoD and the union, additional pressure/threat may need to be applied. I think your perspective is that without more taxes they will starve to death. I am not so sure. Therefore, I would bring to bear the additional threat of dissolution. Note that I have NOT mentioned the alleged Orinda/Moraga funding inequity. I don't think you "need" that argument here but, in the real world, that will be part of the credible threat because it will help you get the required signatures to force LAFCO to assess dissolution and/or reorganization.
c5 March 07, 2013 at 03:40 PM
c5 March 07, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Are you posting this ad on every thread on Patch? IMO you should buy an ad next time.
Carol Penskar March 07, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Hmmmmmmmm..... I have twice been bullied by persons affiliated with MOFD, once by a firefighter in uniform outside Orinda City Hall at night and once by a Board president via email. Both were attempts to silence me. Could this be attempt number 3?
LamorindaMan March 07, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Orinda shouldn't have any firemen. Everypeep knows that the more firemen there are fighting a fire then the bigger the fire tends to be. Clearly, firemen cause an increase in the size of the fire. Get rid of the fire dept and your fires will be tiny, if they occur at all. Firefighting 101. Jeesh.
LamorindaMan March 07, 2013 at 04:03 PM
You're surprised that a firefighter or police officer would bully someone?
Chris Nicholson March 07, 2013 at 04:28 PM
I hope Carol won't flame me for my ignorance, but what entity/mechanism controls the 22.9% number (share of Orinda's CoCo prop taxes going to MOFD). This seems to be the root of the problem. It seems that there is a Prop 13 legacy here, but the split varies by district suggesting that change is possible. I would like to shift some of this money to the Orinda/Moraga general budgets and have MOFD live with even lower revenue. It seems completely irrational (although apparently traditional) to expand (or contract) their budget linearly with assessed property values. It seems nutty to give fire protection services 2X the money in area just because it has 2X the property tax base. Maybe more money makes sense, but not 2X.
Napoleon Solo March 07, 2013 at 05:12 PM
MO: I think there are a lot more readers than posters. Reading these arguments can be rather instructional. As for the Karma thing, right back at you. The problem here is that private industry has gone to defined contribution pension plans and the public sector should do the same. It would greatly simply the math. My back of the envelope calculation for the Engineer Paramedic I guy above shows that to get the same comp under a defined contribution plan, his salary instead of the $200K shown, would be about $310K. So effectively, that guy is gettitng $310K per year. I'm not surprised if someone harassed Carol if it means $110K a year to them. Greed and self interest can make people do and say some interesting things, as your post shows.
Charlie March 07, 2013 at 06:48 PM
MoragaOriginal: "Pay your taxes and shut up"!?!?! Remember representative government? Remember T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men"? Good grief!
Dennis Wanken March 07, 2013 at 06:54 PM
MO. I do not troll the patch. However, the MOFD and the MOFD board need to be carefully reviewed and made more cost effective as well as efficient. You sound like the type of person that a car salesman would love. You would $10,000 for a car worth $1,000 and feel like you've gotten a deal.
Janet Maiorana March 07, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Chris, am adding these figures because many do not believe Orinda is subsidizing Moraga. Orinda 2011/12 Ad Valorem Revenue to MOFD budget was apprroximately $10,529,000. Moraga provided $5,796,071 for the same service. This totaled $16,352,071 for MOFD Ad Valorem revenue which is not all MOFD revenue source. The total MOFD personnel cost causes the unfunded liability. If Orinda detached, Orinda citizens would only be responsible for ufunded liabilities of the 11 Orinda fire fighters which is 57.9% of MOFD total $16,352,071 AdValorem tax revenue stream. In dollars, Orinda's fair share is $9,467.849. However, Orinda is overpaying approximately $1,061,151 ($10,529,000 minus $9,467,849). If we detached, Orinda could use this $1,061,151 annual savings to pay our fair share of the unfunded liabilities, and have a fiscally responsible Orinda Fire District. Looking at Sunday paper home sales one sees Orinda 64.5% to Moraga 34.5% Ad Valorem subsidy increases annually as Orinda assessessed valuation outstrips Moraga. At the last Tri-City meeting, the Mayor of Lafayette who also sits on the LAFCO Board flatly denied the comments that LAFCO will gobble up Orinda into Con Fire. For the past 14 years we have worked diligently to try to correct this funding inequity, and get MOFD Directors to run the District in a fiscally responsible manner. How long will it take to see progress?
Chris Nicholson March 07, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Based on my increasing (but still modest) understanding of this stuff, I would say that it would be unrealistic to take less than ~2/3 of the EXISTING vested liabilities "with us." Frankly, if Orinda and Moraga each formed a new District, I assume that they would each need to backstop the other (joint/several) to get the beneficiaries on board. I think it is unrealistic to count heads or service calls to apportion the PRIOR liabilities that cropped up while MOFD was an unpartitioned single entity. Nonetheless, it still might sense for Orinda to (indirectly) "pull out" of MOFD (technically via a reorganization of MOFD and a newly-formed entity/entities). To me the issues are distinct (prior liabilities and future funding / spending). I think we can all agree that the status quo is unsustainable and the fastest way to mitigate the ongoing harm is for MOFD BoD to take an immediate and aggressive stance with unions and to balance the budget using reality-based assumptions on liabilities. As a second step, we should look at funding and service levels. I think that efforts toward positive change would be catalyzed "in the shadow of" a credible looming threat of dissolution.
Steve Cohn March 07, 2013 at 08:10 PM
While these percentages are fixed and have been since 1978, two agencies, like MOFD and Orinda, can shift percentages. So, if MOFD wanted to, it could shift some of the 22.6% of the property taxes it gets to the City of Orinda. There is a state statute which allows this. Or, as the Task Force report describes, if MOFD and the community decided Orinda taxpayers were paying more than their fair share for services received, then services to Orinda could be increase. This could include paramedic service in underserviced areas, fire hydrant rehabilitation for the three dozen sub-standard hydrants in Orinda, vegetation / fuel load reduction program, or, according to a LAFCO memo, possibly even road repairs to improve emergency service access. Lots of options.
Chris F. March 07, 2013 at 08:25 PM
@ C5 It is in the paid section but my point is that people on here need to get some laughter in before they blow a gasket! I know the funding of MOFD is a serious joke we have only been complaining for years now but certainly nothing we can laugh at!
Janet Maiorana March 07, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Chris, Orinda costs should be based on the cost of fire fighters service to the Orinda ciitzen which includes the cost of their unfunded liability. In 1992, prior to the formation of MOFD, Moraga passed a 30 cent Fire Flow Tax to cover their Fire District costs. After Orinda detached from Con Fire and MOFD was formed, Moraga did not have to use their 30 cent Fire Flow Tax over the 6 cent Fire Flow Tax both communities pay. That speak volumes about Orinda subsidizing Moraga. Scenarios: 1. Meaningful changes from MOFD. 2. The Orinda City Council acts as the lead agency to detach from MOFD as they detached from Con Fire in order to stop Orinda taxpayers from subsiding other communities. Since both scenarios are far fetched, the Orinda tax payer will keep on paying an entitlement to Moraga. . MORAGA ORIGINAL says we are a bunch of idiots, and to pay our taxes and shut our mouths. He has no worries.
Scott March 14, 2013 at 03:23 AM
Carol, I doubt you care about the truth but firefighters in the MOFD cannot sell back vacation NOR can they add it to their final salary for pension calculations. A small number of Chiefs had a provision allowing for this but it is being phased out. San Ramon Valley firefighters and chiefs can do this, but I believe they are phasing out as well. Firefighters throughout the Bay Area work a base schedule of 56 hours a week, and 120 shifts a year. The numbers listed above are inclusive of overtime but this table does not delineate that and, I believe, is purposefully trying to incite a "riot". When you do simple math, which I am certain you are capable of, the average $200k firefighter you want to crow about, in the greater Bay Area, makes about $40 - 47 an hour. That plumber you called last month to unclog your toilet makes more. Per Diem nurses at John Muir are DOUBLING that rate. Where is the outrage over your health insurance premiums supporting those wages for nurses? I'll bet your annual outlay for health insurance FAR OUTSTRIPS the portion of your annual property taxes allocated for fire protection.
Steve Cohn March 14, 2013 at 02:43 PM
@ Scott: Carol wants the truth as do we all. The bottom line is firefighters are very expensive because it costs a lot of money so save enough over 30 years of work (20-50) to live on full salary plus cost of living increases plus medical for the next 30 years (50-80). That is why most people work and save until they are 65 or even longer. The bottom line is it costs about $200,000 per year per firefighter, salary and benefits, in MOFD excluding the cost of unfunded benefits which cost, or should cost, about another $100,000. (Table IV-3 in the Orinda Task Force report - http://orindataskforce.org/tables) There are 19 firefighters on shift and three shifts so 57 firefighters. They cover each other's sick leave, vacation, etc. with overtime so the $200,000 is for 122 24-hour days. That equates to $68 per hour. During those 24 hour days, on average, they attend to slightly less than two incidents (Table III-1 which is the total for seven operating units), eat and sleep. They are on-duty and getting compensated for every hour of the day, whether they are actually "working" or not. The plumber you mentioned is only getting paid when he is actually plumbing, not 24 hours a day for the days he is "on call". You should give us a "diary" of what a firefighter does while not actually on an incident so we have a better idea of what a firefighter does in the 20+ hours in a day they are not actively saving lives.
Carol Penskar March 16, 2013 at 04:05 AM
@ Scott: I agree with everything that Steve Cohn wrote and I thank him for pointing out your apples to oranges analysis. I do care about the truth which is why I have a copy of your labor contract and quote out of it in my posts here. As for my property taxes and pension spiking: I once calculated (while at one of the endless meetings on how much money the MOFD spends) that just Nowicki's pension claims $35 of my annual property taxes. This didn't even include his lifetime medical benefits or that his pension is inflation protected. His pension is over 15 times what the social security administration tells me I will collect. I have to wait until age 66. He got to start about 15 years earlier than me. One of your retired firefighters was doing work on the side in video production and real estate even before he retired and continues to do so while pocketing a very nice 6 figure MOFD pension. As Chair of the Orinda Finance Advisory Committee, I know that the City has only a defined contribution plan for retirement and no City-paid post-retirement medical. They seem to have no problem attracting and retaining qualified persons. For a recent posting for a professional analyst position, they had about 65 applicants. A February CC Times article on Bay Area police hiring said that a small number of police jobs in the Bay Area had "provoked a feverish response."
Carol Penskar March 16, 2013 at 04:15 AM
@ Scott again ps: In the 7/20/09 Wall Street Journal article on the great success that Nowicki had in spiking what the Journal called "an additional $1 million or more" into his lifetime retirement payments, then vice president and now current Board President Frank Sperling said: "The system itself is broken. We need to change the system." Unfortunately, Mr. Sperling did not put a time frame on when he plans to do this. Nearly 4 years later, with the MOFD approaching insolvency, the citizens of Orinda and Moraga are still waiting for his needed fix.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »