Susan Muranishi California's Best-Paid County Administrator

Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi is not only the highest paid country administrator in California, she will be able to retire in two years with an annual pension of $413,000, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

One reason for the stellar salary paid to Muranishi, 63, is her 38 years with the county. The other is her excellent negotiations skills which has, no doubt, saved the county many times her salary during each of her many years on the job.

On top of her base salary of $301,000 Muranishi negotiated several other components that enhance her compensation package. One is so-called equity pay which guarantees that she will make at least 10% more than anyone else in the county. That came to over $24,000 a year in 2012.

She has also negotiated for herself longevity pay of $54,000 a year for having stayed with the county for over 30 years. Add to that an annual performance bonus of $24,000, $9,000 for serving on the county’s ad hoc three-member Surplus Property Authority to oversees the sale of excess land, and an $8,292-a-year car allowance to arrive at her total annual compensation of $423,664.

Maybe the best part of Muranishi’s pay package is the provision of her contract that requires her annual pension to equal her entire compensation package during her final year in office which will come to $413,000. That’s not all. The county is required to contribute another $46,500 a year to her separate private pension plan.

To put Muranishi’s pay in perspective, the mayor of Los Angeles makes about half as much, or $232,425, while the New York City mayor is entitled to $225,000 (though Michael Bloomberg is paying himself just $1 a year), and Chicago’s mayor makes just $216,210. Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland — the seat of Alameda County — is entitled to earn $183,397 though she has voluntarily taken a 25% pay cut.

If a county can be compared to a business, the county administrator is like the CEO, making the day-to-day decisions that affect the operation of its various services and functions as well as its financial health.