Hollister’s cost of living may be relatively low compared to its northern neighbors, but wages and benefits for its city workers place it among the top 20 percent in the entire state, according to a new report.
In her annual report of Government Compensation in California, 2018, State Comptroller Betty Yee reported that the average salary of Hollister city employees last year was $68,749, higher than neighboring Gilroy, at $67,016, and even higher than affluent Los Altos, at $68,488.
An estimate of Hollister’s median pay for full-time employees, the midpoint in a list of all full-time salaries, is nearly $88,000.
Hollister has a fairly lean staff, in terms of its size, given its population. San Benito County’s biggest city, with 40,149 residents, has a full- and part-time workforce of 236, far below Morgan Hill’s 513-person staff, with a population of 45,742, according to Yee. Morgan Hill staff totals to not include firefighters, because it contracts with Cal Fire for city fire service. Hollister’s fire department also provides fire protection for San Juan Bautista and the rest of sprawling San Benito County.
Los Altos, which Hollister matches in average pay, has a similar-sized staff, of 232, but a smaller population, at 31,190, according to the report released June 25.
Yee’s report also covered California counties. It showed that while Hollister’s municipal payroll ranks in the top 20 percent of the state’s cities, San Benito County ranks in the bottom 25 percent among all counties.
The average pay for the county’s 607 full- and part-time employees, at $47,495, is more than $20,000 less than the average for Hollister city employees. The median county salary for full-time staff, at nearly $52,000, is nearly $36,000 less than the Hollister median.
San Benito County’s staff salaries match up with Tuolumne, near Yosemite, whose 891 county employees average $45,746 in pay, according to Yee’s report.
San Benito County’s four top elected officials—district attorney, sheriff/coroner, clerk/auditor, and treasurer/tax collector—all rank among the top 10 salaries.
County Administrative Officer Ray Espinosa was the highest paid county worker in 2018, with an annual salary of $229,838, plus $17,955 in health and pension benefits. District Attorney Candice Hooper, at $211,189 ($30,101 in benefits), and Sheriff Darren Thompson, at $202,200 ($54,992 in benefits) were the only others paid above $200,000 annually in San Benito County government.
Among other elected officials, the county supervisors earned from $39,343 to $49,190 in 2018, depending on the district.
Salaries of Superior Court judges are not included in the county report. Also, there are no firefighters in the county report; the county contracts with the City of Hollister Fire Department for fire services.
Firefighters accounted for seven of the 10 highest-paid city employees in Hollister, all of them making above $175,000 annually, with annual pension and health benefits ranging from $20,000 to $51,000. Firefighter pay also includes overtime pay.
A fire engineer, for example earned $258,762 in 2018—the highest paid city employee, approximately $50,000 more than City Manager Bill Avera, at $208,077. The engineer and a fire caption, at $203,504, earned more in 2018 than Fire Chief Bob Martin Del Campo, at $186,198.
Police Chief David Westrick, at $172,672 pay in 2018, was ranked 13th for the city, below one of his lieutenants, at $181,202.
Similar reports on compensation in state government departments, California’s state universities and superior courts are to be released this month.
For details, see https://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Cities/Cities.aspx?year=2018
Hollister’s Top Ten Salaries
Title pay benefits
Fire Engineer $258,762 $50,935
City Manager 208,077 19,089
Fire Captain 203,504 41,025
Fire Chief 186,198 31,202
Fire Battalion Chief 183,454 48,167
Police Lieutenant 181,202 52,931
Fire Captain 178,637 32,053
Fire Captain 175,956 51,366
IS & Tech. Dir. 175,829 8,371
Fire Engineer 175,782 20,795