Former Police Chief Ron De Pompa made about $370,000 during the last calendar year, according to annual gross salary data publicly released by the city this month—the most any city employee has netted in years.
But more than $150,000 of that didn't go directly into his pocket, De Pompa said.
That money, which came from thousands of hours of unused sick time converted into cash, was placed in a so-called "retiree health savings plan" account. The account can only be used for medical expenses.
A city perk allows managers to roll unused sick and vacation time into the health savings account when they retire. The city pays out $30 per every unused hour of sick time for managers, according to the city's contract with the Glendale Manager's Assn.
"I don't think I ever took many sick leave days," De Pompa said, adding that he spends about $2,100 a month on his insurance premium for his family.
De Pompa, who retired after 37 years at the Glendale Police Department, in late February 2012, continued to work for the city as an hourly employee, earning $103 per hour, until the city found his replacement.
He said, in context, he didn't take home as much money as the city records show, and he didn't want Glendale residents to feel sticker shock as a result.
A portion of his gross salary covered unused vacation hours, as well. Unused vacation hours, like sick hours, are rolled over into the retiree health savings plan. All managers may cash out up to 160 hours of accrued vacation leave at their regular base hourly rate of pay each fiscal year, according to the contract.
In 2012, De Pompa received about $247,000 in gross salary. Most of the discrepancy between his prior year salary and 2013 came from cashing out leftover sick and vacation time, he said.
De Pompa's gross salary in calendar year 2013 topped the final salaries of former City Manager Jim Starbird and former Glendale Water & Power General Manager Glenn Steiger. In their final working calendar years—2010 for Starbird and 2011 for Steiger-- the two netted roughly $265,000 each. Both earned the most with their final full-year salaries.
In 2013, about 27% of the roughly 2,200 full-time and part-time employees on the salary list made more than $100,000. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, 32% of employees made up to $40,000.
Most of the city's top earners are from the fire and police departments. Under De Pompa, the next highest earner in 2013 was City Manager Scott Ochoa, who made about $260,000 in gross salary. Fire Chief Harold Scoggins came in third with an annual gross salary of nearly $245,000.