Incoming Santa Ana City Manager's High Salary Raises Eyebrows

Santa Ana hired away the city manager of Phoenix, a much bigger city, and is matching his salary there

By Hetty Chang
|  Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013  |  Updated 9:22 PM PDT
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The city of Santa Ana has hired a new city manager, and will be paying him a high-dollar salary, making him one of the highest paid city employees California. David Cavazos has yet to start, but his rumored pay is already causing controversy. Hetty Chang reports from Santa Ana for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on August 7, 2013.

Hetty Chang

The city of Santa Ana has hired a new city manager, and will be paying him a high-dollar salary, making him one of the highest paid city employees California. David Cavazos has yet to start, but his rumored pay is already causing controversy. Hetty Chang reports from Santa Ana for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on August 7, 2013.

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The city of Santa Ana's new city manager is getting a salary and benefits package worth nearly $560,000 his first year, making him one of the highest-paid city employees in the state.

Santa Ana this week hired David Cavazos after passing its first balanced budget in years. Cavazos is leaving his position as the city manager of Phoenix to take the Santa Ana job.

But the big salary on the heels of years of financial struggling has outraged many Californians and Santa Ana residents.

"Just because you're a public figure, it should be fair with everybody else," said Minh Lac, who does not live in Santa Ana, but expressed his feelings about Cavazos' salary.

"A city manager making that much money while people are homeless?" asked Vincent Garcia. "It's ridiculous."

Cavazos is expected to earn a base salary of $315,000, which is approximately $50,000 more than the city has paid previous city managers. With a full benefits package, which includes housing, Santa Ana is prepared to pay him nearly $560,000 in his first year.

Santa Ana matched Cavazos' salary as Phoenix's city manager, a post he has held since 2009.
Phoenix has a population of approximately 1.47 million, more than four times that of Santa Ana, a city of about 360,000.

In a statement to NBC4 News, Cavazos explained his decision to leave Phoenix, where he rose through the ranks as an intern - making less than $10 an hour - to city manager over the course of 26 years.

"I am not leaving Phoenix for the money, rather for the opportunity," he stated. "I have accepted this position because i'm excited to build upon the successes in Santa Ana. "

Cavazos was chosen out of 65 applicants, according to Santa Ana's long-time mayor Miguel Pulido.

"We did a national search as we interviewed other candidates," said Pulido. "I can tell you there was nobody of this caliber, no one that had the combination of experience that fit us so well."

Cavazos' first day is Oct. 21.

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