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Parks official earned $300,000 a year, according to salary database

April 26, 2011 | 11:12 am

A California park district general manager earned over $300,000 in total compensation in 2009, according to data released Tuesday by the state controller.

Joseph Donofrio, former general manager of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, was paid $306,474 in 2009 along with $16,500 in deferred compensation. Donofrio retired last year and now receives a pension from the district.

His compensation was published Tuesday along with those of thousands of other special district employees as a part of an ambitious database project led by state Controller John Chiang.  

The database, which was launched in response to the salary scandal in the city of Bell, now includes figures from all of California’s cities and counties and over 1,500 special districts.

Chiang said in a recent interview that he viewed the website as a way to create more dialogue about public sector compensation.

“The question for all of us is how do we make government more interactive?” he said. “I think that will be a game-changer.”

The new data added Tuesday include figures from over 500 cemetery, electric, flood control and community service districts. None of the employees ranked as high as some from a previous release that covered public hospital executives. The highest-paid special district employee in the database is still Michael Covert, chief executive of the Palomar Pomerado Hospital District in San Diego, who earned about $1 million in 2009.

But Donofrio’s compensation stood out among those released Tuesday because of the nature of his organization and its relatively small staff. He appears to have been the best-paid park manager in the state.

The district owns and manages about 30,000 acres of land in the Monterey Peninsula and has 17 full-time employees, according to its current general manager, James Sulentich.

Sulentich said he makes only half of what Donofrio was paid. When asked why his predecessor’s wages were so much higher, Sulentich said he wasn’t sure.

The president of the park district’s board of directors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The second- and third-highest paid park managers came from the Hesperia Recreation and Park District and Conejo Recreation and Park District, and made $225,000 and $202,000, respectively. Both of those districts have far more employees than the Monterey Peninsula District.

In addition to total compensation, Chiang’s site includes data on employee salaries and health and retirement benefits. It is expected to be completed in June, when figures for state government employees will be uploaded.

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-- Sam Allen

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