Mission Viejo


by Ed Sachs

One lesson we are learning with the implementation of Obamacare is that government cannot deliver better services than the private sector. Of greater concern is the amount of tax payer dollars wasted by big government today. In 2012, the Cato Institute reported that the average total wages, pension and healthcare per federal civilian employee was $114,976. The same total compensation for a private-sector employee was an average of $65,917.

In Mission Viejo, 41 of our 273 city employees earn over $100,000 in wages alone. Seventy-five employees are paid over $75,000 in wages alone. In Mission Viejo 27% of its city employees are earning 71% of wages paid. The cost of pension and healthcare in 2012 to the residents of Mission Viejo was $3.3 million dollars. Mission Viejo has 82 employees whose total compensation (with pension and benefits) is greater than $100,000. Private companies cannot afford this kind of earnings imbalance. Government does not compete nor is it required to make a profit. It just spends more of your money.
By comparison, our San Juan Capistrano neighbors pay their 113 city employees $9,996,645 in total compensation. That is an average total compensation of $64,572 per SJC employee, compared to Mission Viejo’s total compensation average of $54,676 per city employee. Each resident in Mission Viejo pays $151.82 per city employee while SJC residents are paying $283.02 in total compensation to their city employees.

How much government is too much? Does Mission Viejo need 2 Senior Executive Assistants, 5 Public Service Supervisors, 4 Senior Public Services Contract Administrators, 5 Community Services Supervisors, 6 Community Services Specialists, 4 Public Services Supervisors and 3 Associate Planners? Residents must decide how much more they are willing to pay for programs and services. Remember, any simple government program will add headcount. It is a rare case indeed when government spending decreases. How many programs go beyond public safety, traffic and waste management? How many are “need-to-have” versus “like-to-have”?

Could the city manage with fewer duplicate employees? What programs in the city do these employees manage? What private companies, non-profit or other organizations would offer the same services and programs at better cost and at greater value to residents?

In my opinion, Mission Viejo should stop spending tax dollars trying to compete with the private sector. Mission Viejo tried and failed to operate a farmer’s market in direct competition with local grocers. The obvious conclusion is that government should not be in the grocery business! There are seven fitness centers in Mission Viejo offering competitive monthly rates and some offer free memberships through healthcare providers. Is it in the best long-term interest for the city to operate and maintain the Montanoso and Sierra recreation centers? Perhaps, but I am willing to bet that no one in City Hall is having that conversation.

Many city programs do not offset their costs or generate tax revenue. Allowing private companies an opportunity to succeed without having to compete with city programs will allow Mission Viejo to grow and blossom into a shining jewel in Orange County.

You can view the wages and compensation of virtually every government employee in California by visiting http://www.californiacitynews.org/2013/12/state-controller-releases-list-highest-paid-city-employees-2012.html.

Ed Sachs and his family have lived in Mission Viejo since 1991. Ed spent 30 years in the consumer electronics industry where he was inducted in the Hall of Fame. He retired as President Emeritus at Pioneer Electronics in 2009. Since retirement, Ed has opened his own leadership-consulting agency while becoming active in the community. In 2012, Ed ran for Mission Viejo City Council. Ed and his wife Leagh, an accomplished and award winning photographer, have two sons, David and Daniel.

Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.

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