Bell City Manager Might Be Highest Paid in Nation: $787,637 a year

In addition to Rizzo's $787,637 salary, Bell pays Police Chief Randy Adams $457,000 a year, about 50 percent more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck or Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and more than double New York City's police commissioner. Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia makes $376,288 annually, more than most city managers. Top officials have routinely received hefty annual raises in recent years. Rizzo's contract calls for 12 percent raises each July, the same as his top deputy, according to documents obtained under the California Public Records Act.

Experts in city government said they were amazed at the salaries the city pays, particularly Rizzo's. "I have not heard anything close to that number in terms of compensation or salary," said Dave Mora, West Coast regional director of the International City/County Management Assn., and a retired city manager.

By comparison, Manhattan Beach, a far wealthier city with about 7,000 fewer people, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year. The city manager of Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, earns $235,000 annually. Los Angeles County Chief Executive William T Fujioka makes $338,458.

Salary Comparisons

• Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo $787,637
• President Barack Obama $400,000
• Los Angeles County Chief Executive William T Fujioka $338,458
• Los Angeles City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana $256,803
• Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa $232,425
• Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi $223,500
• Dana Point City Manager Douglas Chotkevys $203,483
  (Dana Point has the same population as Bell)
• Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger $173,987
  (Schwarzenegger has declined to take his salary)
• Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez $109,584