Bay Area: Epic Levels of Waste, Fraud and Abuse of Gas Tax Funds Exposed in Caltrans and Local Transportation Agencies

A $227k bus driver and hundreds of other bus drivers earning $100,000 or more in Bay Area! A Bay Area transit agency pays an automotive mechanic $190,376! A $25,000 conference table purchased weeks after gas tax hike approved!

With the election just weeks away, the Yes on Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal Campaign today released government documents and records showing numerous examples of “epic levels” of waste, fraud and abuse of gas tax funds and other taxpayer resources at Caltrans and San Francisco local transportation agencies.

The records and documents were obtained through the California Public Records Act (CPRA) process – and cover only materials received back from City of San Francisco’s Department of Public Works, San Francisco MTA (SFMTA), and Caltrans.  Other local government agencies also receive and spend gas tax funds – raising the question of how many more examples of waste of gas tax funds exist in the Los Angeles region.

“These examples of outrageous waste of the gas tax and other taxpayer resources provide the best reason to vote YES on Prop 6 the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative,” said Carl DeMaio, chairman of the campaign.

“Our existing gas tax funds are being wasted and we demand that these revelations of bloated bureaucracies, excessive salaries and compensation, and outrageous expenditures be immediately reformed before we give these people any more of our taxpayer dollars,” noted DeMaio.

Finding 1: The $100,000 Club – Government Employees Earning 6-Figure Salaries from Gas Tax

In just the two agencies selected for this review, an astonishing percentage of individuals are earning over $100,000 a year in compensation – at a time when the median per capita income in San Francisco County stands at just $49,986.  While it certainly is expected that some executive-level employees would earn six-figures, the astonishingly high percentage of total employees in the $100,000 Club is excessive.

  • San Francisco Department of Public Works: The SFPW has nearly two-thirds (63%) of its employees earning $100,000 or more with the average compensation of all employees at $114,736.
  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency: The SFMTA has more than two thirds (66%) percent of its employees earning $100,000 or more with the average compensation of all employees at $118,592. A total of 3814 employees earn $100,000 or more.
  • San Jose Department of Public Works:The SFPW has more than half (51%) of its employees earning $100,000 in compensation or more – with the average employee earning $102,017 a year.The San Jose Director of Transportation pulls in $460,671.
  • Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA): The VTA has sixty-four percent (64%) of its employees earning $100,000 or more – with the average employee earning $114,335. 1545 VTA employees pulling in $100,000 or more is more than the number of actual busses run by VTA!
  • Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District: The GGTA has 71 percent of its employees (860) earning $100,000 or more – with the average employee earning $120,286. The number of VTA employees pulling in $100,000 or more is more than the number of actual busses run by VTA!  Denis J Mulligan, General Manager, pulls in $423,324 a year – while some of his bus drivers are making out nicely with Patrick A Depalma making $227,181 last year and Raymond C.W Woo making $204,307 this year. Calbert A Rutherford, a simple dispatcher, makes $182,849.  Kenneth Pozzobon, a plumber, makes $180,803 while Fred Mixon, the bridge painter, pulls in $178,856.
  • Caltrans: More than half (57%) of the Caltrans employees earns $100,000 or more per year – with 11,256 Caltrans employees pulling in $100,000 or more. For every “active” project at Caltrans, there are more than six members of the $100,000 Club! The average compensation at Caltrans is a whopping $113,554 a year.

Finding 2: Are You Kidding Me Club? Outrageous Compensation Well Above Local Labor Market

The politicians will try to argue that the $100,000 Club is arbitrary and the reason why so many government employees are earning six-figures is because of the “special skills” they possess.  In a complete refutation to this spin, this review uncovered some shockingly high compensation packages for lower-skilled positions.

  • San Francisco Department of Public Works
    • Plumber: $173,170
    • Truck Driver: $153,227
    • Bricklayer: $142,928
    • Painter: $139,695
    • Carpenter: $131,640
    • Executive Secretary: $123,812
  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
    • Automotive Transit Shop Supervisor earns $253,319 – with 13 total automotive shop supervisors earning over $200,000!  Not a supervisor type? That’s ok – we found a simple Automotive Mechanic earning $190,376!
    • Plumber: $188,336
    • Transit Car Cleaner: $158,075 for the top earner – with 76 Transit Car Cleaners earning over $100,000!
    • Locksmith: $135,790
    • Truck Driver: $177,487
    • Sheet Metal Worker: $218,329
    • Car Painter: $185,158
    • Parking Meter Officer: $145,527
    • Parking Meter Repairer: $123,491
    • Librarian: $122,353
  • San Jose Department of Public Works
    • Senior Electrician pulling in $235,984
    • Air conditioning mechanic earning $209,530
    • Painter at $157,402
    • Plumber at $144,139.
  • Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA):
    • Bus Drivers: Three bus drivers are paid over $200,000 in compensation – including Roy Stokes who pulled in a whopping $205,252. Almost half of VTA’s bus drivers earn $100,000 or more in compensation a year.
    • Bus Decorators: VTA  has a“Paint and Body Worker” Danny Davis earning $223,281 – and an “Upholsterer” earning $216,925.

Finding 3: Excessive Purchases with Gas Tax Funds

  • Fly, Fly Away: $800 trip to Waikiki in Hawaii, $1500 for a Suite at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas and $1300 for a Suite at the Venetian
  • Fabulous Furnishings: SFMTA spent $25,000 for the purchase of one conference table, $1100 for one office chair

Finding 4: Spend More, Get Less for Road Repairs

  • Miles of Roads Repaved: SFDPW touched less than 4 percent of all its streets this year. SFDPW did only 34 miles of repaving in FY16-17, but then only did 1 mile more of repaving the next year. Worse, SFDPW did only 18 miles of micro-surfacing in FY16-17, but then only did 17 miles more of micro-surfacing in FY17-18.

Finding 5: Bloated Bureaucracies

  • LAO Says Caltrans Over-staffed by at least 1000 positions in one program alone!
  • Engineering Failure: Caltrans has 7,494 “Engineers” – that’s more than three Engineers for every active project!

“These outrageous examples of waste of our gas tax funds is proof that voters cannot trust California government agencies with even a penny more of their money until efficiency and accountability reforms can clean up these excessive expenditures,” said Carl DeMaio, Chairman of Yes on Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal Campaign. “Voters can send a strong message by voting YES on Prop 6 to repeal the costly and unfair gas and car tax hikes,” DeMaio concluded.