Report Shows Highest Paid on Riverside County Government Payroll

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The 10 highest-paid officials in Riverside County government last year were working in public health and — in one case — public safety, according to a report released today by the California State Controller’s Office.
The agency published its 2022 “Government Compensation in California” analysis, shows how taxpayer funds were spent in the previous year, and who was receiving what for being on the public payroll.
The data is available at
The individual who received the largest income in the county government was Director of Behavioral Health Dr. Matthew Chang, whose composite compensation last year totaled $566,374, the report said.
That amount included base pay and a lump sum disbursal, which wasn’t specifically defined on the web portal but could have been banked vacation and sick leave time that wasn’t used, but cashed out, according to the controller’s office.
The second-highest paid was the chief deputy director of the Sheriff’s Department, who was not named. The individual received a base salary of $189,565, but received a lump sum payout of $341,390, according to the report.
Sheriff Chad Bianco’s income, in contrast, totaled $298,990. In government speak, when a subordinate makes more than the superior, it’s called “compaction.” The Board of Supervisors in 2014 hiked executive salaries in an attempt to fix disparities. A similar proposal to raise elected officials’ salaries was made by the Department of Human Resources last December, but the board rejected it, saying it was not justified.
Riverside University Health System Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Arnold Tabuenca landed in the No. 3 spot, taking home $507,748 in 2022, the report said.
A senior psychiatrist in the county Department of Mental Health followed at No. 4 with $506,624 in total compensation, while the assistant director of the Department of Public Social Services was at No. 5 at $503,998.
At No. 6 was the chief of psychiatry in the Department of Mental Health, receiving $493,506. Just behind that person was a senior staff psychiatrist assigned to county correctional facilities, whose annual comp was $491,044.
RUHS CEO Jennifer Cruikshank was at No. 8 among county government’s highest paid last year, procuring $460,899. The balance of the top 10 was comprised of two Department of Mental Health staff psychiatrists, whose total compensation ranged from $444,000 to $447,352 in 2022.
Not one elected county official appeared in the top 50 of the controller’s list. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Van Wagenen was at No. 37, with total compensation of $362,100, according to the report.
Board members were way down the list for annual compensation packages, making less than many deputy district attorneys, sheriff’s sergeants, even the deputy director of transportation, according to figures.
The supervisors’ pay ranged from $160,644 to $203,252 in 2022, with upervisor Kevin Jeffries at the bottom because he has consistently declined pay raises since first taking office in 2013. He’s the most senior member of the board and will be retiring from politics at the completion of his current term in 2024.
The controller’s website indicated the average pay for a county employee last year was $66,072. County government is the single largest employer in Riverside County, with just over 27,000 positions. Roughly $1.86 billion in total wages were paid in 2022.
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