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Medford manager's salary in line

I saw that the city of Medford is looking for a new city manager and that the guy who left made $144,000 a year. That sure seems like a lot of money to be paying a public servant when we can't even pay for a lot of the basics that government is supposed to take care of. Is Medford paying more than most cities of its size?

— Harold S., Medford

Well, Harold, $144,000 is a tidy sum. Of course, we here at Since You Asked make that much — if you add all our salaries together. We promise, however, not to let bitterness sway our answer.

We did a bit of poking around to see whether Medford's city manager has been raking in an extraordinary amount of money. The answer appears to be no, the salary for Medford (pop. 75,000) is generally in line with other Oregon cities.

Here are a few salaries for Oregon city managers:

Wilsonville (pop. 19,500): $125,000; Tualatin (pop. 26,000): $133,000; Bend (pop. 76,600): $153,000; Hillsboro (pop. 91,000): $146,000; Eugene (pop. 156,000): $174,000

Now, if you want to make the big bucks, go south, young man, go south. As in south to California.

We came up with a couple of California cities comparable in size to Medford. The city manager in Lynwood, Calif. (pop. 73,000), makes $225,000, while the city manager in Bellflower (pop. 77,000), makes $200,000.

The top of the city-manager salary pile goes to Robert Rizzo, of Bell, Calif. (pop. 35,000), who was making $787,637 before he resigned and later was charged on 53 counts of misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest.

Bell was a city where public officials came to do good and ended up doing well: Rizzo's administrative assistant was making $376,000 and the police chief was bagging a cool $457,000 annually before their lucrative gig was uncovered by a couple of intrepid newspaper reporters.