City Council members are elected to serve four year terms of office. They are paid a monthly stipend of $623.66, as authorized under State Law, for the time they contribute to serving their community and fulfilling their constitutional duties. While it is considered a part-time job, there are periods of time when a great many hours must be committed to attending public meetings within the City and also to representing the City of Laguna Hills at events and meetings held by other governmental agencies. Most of these meeting are held during the regular work week and require Council members to take leave from their private, full-time employment.
City Council members, elected prior to 2010, are also required to participate in the City’s retirement program with CalPERS. This participation is in-lieu of Social Security, which would otherwise be required under Federal law. The City currently contributes 1.5% of the Council members’ 7% contribution to CalPERS, which amounts to $9.35 monthly. Under the City’s 2% at 60 retirement program, if a Council member were to have served twenty years on the City Council and retire at age 60 from City service today, he or she would receive a monthly pension check of about $250. By law, Council member pensions can only be calculated on the Council member’s age, years of service, and monthly stipend. No other forms of compensation or benefits can be used to calculate his or her pension. A Council member elected on or after November 2, 2010, may select an alternative defined benefit contribution retirement plan in place of CalPERS. If the newly elected Council member chooses this option to supplant the CalPERS program, the City contributes 3.75% of the monthly stipend, which amounts to $23.39.
Orange County Fire Authority – Don Sedgwick: $100 meeting stipend ($300 maximum per month).
Orange County Mosquito & Vector Control District – Erica Pezold: $100 per month maximum.
San Joaquin Transportation Corridor Agency – Janine Heft: $120 meeting stipend (maximum of eighteen meetings per quarter).
As part-time employees, City Council members and their dependent family members are eligible to participate in the City’s group health plans (medical, dental and vision) along with all other City employees. The following listing is the current breakdown of the monthly health insurance premiums paid by the City of Laguna Hills in 2020 for each member of the City Council:
Dr. Dore Gilbert: $ 1,577.53 mo.
Janine Heft: $ 2,075.09 mo.
Erica Pezold: $ 2,075.09 mo.
Don Sedgwick: $ 2,075.09
David Wheeler: $ 106.80
The City does not provide retired Council members with any retiree health coverage, nor are they permitted to purchase their health benefits through the City’s group health plan after they retire.
In addition to the monthly stipends, CalPERS contribution, and insurance premiums as stated above, City Council members may be reimbursed for their routine travel and incidental expenses associated with attending training, meetings, or other official business pertaining to the City. This can vary widely from year-to-year depending on the circumstances and demands of City business. This year, due to the pandemic and stay-at-home order in place throughout much of the year, City Council members traveled very little, if any at all.
You can find an at-a-glance table that details all compensation received by City Council members for calendar year 2020 here.
The City of Laguna Hills is a General Law City which means that most of the laws we operate under were first established by the State of California. When permitted to do so by the State Constitution, the City may adopt new or more restrictive laws than those already established by the State. Laguna Hills operates under what is known as the Council-Manager form of Government. This form of government is modeled after the traditional corporate business model of a Board of Directors (the City Council) and a Chief Executive Officer (the City Manager). So the role of the City Council is primarily to make policy-level decisions, to adopt the annual budget, and to make land-use decisions and other financial and legislative decisions as required by law. The City Manager’s role is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the City, to implement the City’s $48.9 million biennial budget and to implement the laws and policies established by the City Council. The specific enumerated duties of the City Council and the City Manager are set forth in Sections 2-04 and 2-08 of the City of Laguna Hills Municipal Code and may be viewed by clicking here here. Additionally, you can find a copy of the City’s organization chart depicting the reporting relationships and primary responsibilities of each department here.
Laguna Hills has always prided itself in being a streamlined and efficient organization, and while there are only 25 full-time employees, the City’s actual total workforce is much higher. These positions are filled with a variety of full-time employees, part-time employees, and contract employees. By design, the City Council and City Manager have chosen to use contracted services whenever advantageous to do so in lieu of hiring City employees to perform the work. This strategy has proven to be a cost-effective approach to providing traditional city services. It has also been proven to be a very effective way to quickly adjust staffing levels to properly reflect the changing demands that are often driven by the economic conditions of a given time period.
The City Manager has a management staff of six professionals who report directly to him. Collectively, they serve as department heads over all City operations. All management salaries are set by the City Council pursuant to authorizing Resolutions adopted at public meetings. The most recent Salary Resolution adopted by the City Council may be viewed by clicking here. Salaries are benchmarked against comparable positions in Orange County. The compensation of all management staff, beginning with the City Manager, is listed below.
The City Manager, Donald J. White, was appointed by the City Council on February 3, 2018, and serves at the pleasure of the City Council. His specific powers and duties are established by law in the City of Laguna Hills Municipal Code. His compensation and other related terms of employment are embodied in an Employment Agreement which was approved in January 2018, a copy of which may be found here. The City Manager may be removed from his position upon a majority vote of the City Council at a lawfully noticed public meeting conducted in accordance with the requirements set forth in the Municipal Code and his Employment Agreement.
The Assistant City Manager/Director of Public Services, Kenneth H. Rosenfield, is appointed by the City Manager and serves at his pleasure. He is an “At-Will” employee under State law. In addition to the traditional duties of a Director of Public Services, he also serves the City as the City Engineer, the City Traffic Engineer, the Parks Director and the Street Superintendent. Mr. Rosenfield directs the functions of the Engineering Department, Public Works Department, Parks Department and Capital Improvement Administration, and is the principal staff for the City’s Traffic Commission. He also serves as a voting member of the Orange County Transportation Authority Technical Steering Committee. He receives no additional compensation for serving on this committee. Additionally, as Assistant City Manager, Mr. Rosenfield serves as City Manager in the City Manager’s absence. In 2020, Mr. Rosenfield was elected to the position of Region 9 Director for the American Society of Civic Engineers and chairs the seven-member Board of Governors for the State of California for the association. In 2008-09, Mr. Rosenfield served as President of the Orange County branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers and in 2003, he served as President of the City Engineers Association of Orange County.
The Assistant City Manager/Director of Public Services’ annual base salary was $210,075 in 2020. He received no cost of living adjustment this past calendar year. Mr. Rosenfield also receives additional benefits (retirement, health, disability and life insurances, auto allowance) that had a total annual value for calendar year 2020 of $56,602. The combined total of all of the above-listed annual compensation items for 2020 is $266,677. You can find an at-a-glance table that details all compensation received by the Assistant City Manager/Director of Public Services for calendar year 2020 here.
Mr. Rosenfield graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He subsequently earned a Master’s in Business Administration degree from the University of California, Riverside. He is a licensed Civil Engineer in the State of California. Prior to becoming a City employee of Laguna Hills in July 1995, he served a variety of other public agencies for seventeen years as City Engineer, and he worked in other positions through both private and public employment.
The Finance Director, Janice Reyes, is appointed by the City Manager and serves at his pleasure. She is an “At-Will” employee under State law. In addition to the traditional duties of Finance Director, she also functions as the department head for Budget, Benefits Administration and Risk Management. Ms. Reyes is a member of the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers, the Government Finance Officers Association, and the California Municipal Treasurers Association. Ms. Reyes is the newest member of the City’s management staff, having been promoted from Finance Manager in February 2018.
The Finance Director’s annual base salary was $179,672 in 2020. She received no cost of living adjustment this past calendar year. Ms. Reyes also receives additional benefits (retirement, health, disability and life insurances) that had a total annual value for calendar year 2020 of $46,358. The combined total of all of the above-listed annual compensation items for 2020 is $226,030. You can find an at-a-glance table that details all compensation received by the Finance Director for calendar year 2020 here.
Ms. Reyes graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in Business Administration and an emphasis in Accounting. Ms. Reyes began her employment with the City of Laguna Hills in June of 1994, as a Finance Intern. She has since served in various capacities including Accountant and Finance Manager through her tenure with the City. During the course of her employment with the City, Ms. Reyes has been the recipient of numerous awards for financial reporting and budgeting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.
The Community Development Director, David Chantarangsu, is appointed by the City Manager and serves at his pleasure. He is an “At-Will” employee under State law. As the Community Development Director, he oversees the Planning, Building, Code Enforcement, and Receptionist functions for the City of Laguna Hills. He is the principal staff for the City’s Planning Agency. Mr. Chantarangsu joined the City on December 26, 2011.
The Community Development Director’s annual base salary was $204,224 in 2020. He received no cost of living adjustment this past calendar year. Mr. Chantarangsu also receives additional benefits (retirement, health, disability and life insurances, auto allowance) that had a total annual value for calendar year 2020 of $46,607. The combined total of all of the above-listed annual compensation items for 2020 is $250,831. You can find an at-a-glance table that details all compensation received by the Community Development Director for calendar year 2020 here.
Mr. Chantarangsu earned a Bachelor of Science degree from California State Polytechnic University Pomona, CA. Prior to coming to Laguna Hills in December 2011, he served for 21 years in the City of Glendora in various planning and redevelopment capacities, ultimately being appointed Assistant Director of Planning.
The Chief of Police Services, Lt. Matthew Stiverson, is selected by the City Manager. He is an employee of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. In addition to the traditional duties of a Police Chief, he also oversees Emergency Management. As an employee of the Sheriff’s Department, Lt. Stiverson does not receive any compensation directly from the City. The cost of his position is paid for under the City’s contract with the Sheriff. For the current fiscal year, that annual cost to the City is $411,853.
The Deputy City Manager/Director of Community Services, David Reynolds, is appointed by the City Manager and serves at his pleasure. He is an “At-Will” employee under State law. The Deputy City Manager/Director of Community Services is the department head of the Community Services Department and is responsible for the management of the 18-acre Laguna Hills Community Center and Sports Complex. In addition, the Deputy City Manager/Director of Community Services is responsible for the administration of the City’s waste and recycling franchise agreement with CR&R, the administration of the animal services agreement with the City of Mission Viejo, and also oversees the City’s Information Technology Department. Mr. Reynolds is also the principal staff support assigned to the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
The Deputy City Manager/Director of Community Services’ annual base salary was $193,992 in 2020. He received no cost of living adjustment this past calendar year. Mr. Reynolds also receives additional benefits (retirement, health, disability and life insurances) that had a total annual value in calendar year 2020 of $50,947. The combined total of all of the above-listed annual compensation items for 2020 was $244,938. You can find an at-a-glance table that details all compensation received by the Deputy City Manager/Director of Community Services for calendar year 2020 here.
Mr. Reynolds graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in Liberal Arts and a minor in Environmental Science. He also has a Project Management certification from the University of California, Irvine. Prior to coming to Laguna Hills in February 2003, he worked in the private sector for eight years in information technology at Thomas Bros. Maps and for an information technology outsourcing firm, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS). Mr. Reynolds’ six years with ACS provided him an opportunity to work in several local cities including Irvine, Lake Forest, Pomona, and Chino. His last position with ACS was to serve as the Director of Information Technology for the City of Pomona.
The Deputy City Manager/City Clerk’s annual base salary was $181,976 in 2020. She received no cost of living adjustment this past calendar year. Ms. Au-Yeung also receives additional benefits (retirement, health, disability and life insurances, auto allowance) that had a total annual value for calendar year 2020 of $50,110. The combined total of all of the above-listed annual compensation items for 2020 is $232,085. You can find an at-a-glance table that details all compensation received by the Deputy City Manager/City Clerk for calendar year 2020 here.
After incorporation in 1991, the City joined CalPERS in 1992. Today, of the 480 cities in California, 449 are members of CalPERS. CalPERS offers a wide array of defined benefit pension plans, generally described by one of the following formulas:
- 2.0% at the age of 60
- 2.0% at the age of 55
- 2.5% at the age of 55
- 2.7% at the age of 55
- 3.0% at the age of 60
Laguna Hills is the only city in Orange County that retained the more conservative and sustainable 2.0% at 60 formula. In Orange County, there are 15 cities that at one time or another have provided or still provide the 2% at 55 pension plan. Another 17 cities offered the more lucrative 2.5% or 2.7% at 55 formulas. These more lucrative 2.5% or 2.7% formulas serve to enhance pension benefits by 20% to 26% over and above the City of Laguna Hills’ pension plan. Since January 1, 2013, pursuant to State law, all new employees who have not been a part of a public employee pension plan in the previous six months are under a 2% at 62 formula. It should also be noted that in Laguna Hills the only compensation that can be legally used to calculate an employee’s retirement pension is base salary, plus performance based incentive pay. No other benefits, including vacation buy-outs, can be used to enhance an employee’s pension.
There are two components of the City’s contributions to CalPERS. The first is the employee’s individual contribution rate, which is fixed at 7%. Beginning on July 1, 2020, for management employees only, the City pays 1.5% of this portion on the employee’s behalf and this amount is included in the total compensation figures listed above. The second component of the City’s CalPERS contribution is the employer rate. For Laguna Hills, the rate this year is 9.929%. The City’s employer contributions are considered an asset of the City and not of its employees. For this reason, it is not considered employee compensation.
It is a common practice for governmental agencies to provide retiree health insurance coverage to their employees. Over fifteen years ago, the City evaluated the provision of this benefit to its employees. The analysis showed that it was just too expensive. As a cost-effective alternative, the City evaluated a Retiree Health Savings (RHS) plan for long-time employees. This type of plan functions like a defined contribution 401k plan. After ten years of full-time employment, employees are enrolled in the City’s RHS plan and the City starts contributing $5,000 annually while the employee is employed by the City. This amount is included in the management compensation reported above and only for those management employees who have reached the ten-year anniversary mark. In addition, any unused sick leave over 160 hours is bought out by the City and deposited in the employee’s RHS account. Since this amount can vary widely from year-to-year, it is not included in management compensation reported above, but is listed under “Other Compensation” in the at-a-glance tables. The employee may use these contributions to help defray medical expenses in retirement. When the employee retires, or exits employment with the City, the City has no post-employment benefit obligation. The City Council does not participate in this plan.
City employees accrue vacation leave at various levels depending on years of service. State law requires that employees be compensated for unused vacation leave when they exit employment with the City. It is a recommended best management practice to limit the amount of vacation leave that an employee may accumulate. In Laguna Hills, the maximum number of hours that an employee may carry-over from one year to the next is 320 hours. If at the end of a given fiscal year, an employee has an excess of 320 hours of vacation, the City buys out all vacation leave in excess of the 320 hours. The City encourages all employees to reduce their unused leave balances each year to 160 hours or less. This practice allows the City to avoid the accumulation of large unfunded liabilities. Employees are thereby allowed to cash out vacation leave in excess of 80 hours. To the extent that an employee has his or her vacation bought out by the City, or if it is cashed out by the employee, it is taxable compensation. And, as stated above, it is illegal to include vacation buy-outs when an employee’s pension is calculated. Since vacation buy-outs vary significantly from year-to-year, these amounts are treated by the City as special, one-time occurrences and are not included in the regular, recurring compensation of management staff listed above, but is listed under “Other Compensation” in the at-a-glance tables. City Council members do not receive vacation, or any other types of leave.