HOUSTON -- The city governments in some of Houston’s suburbs pay their top administrators well over a $100,000 a year, but nowhere near the outrageous salaries paid in Bell, California.
Still 11News found some disagreement over who deserves the big public bucks.
Bell is the tiny suburb of Los Angeles where last month, citizens learned their city manager made over $800,000 a year and city council members were getting as much as $96,000.
Salaries in Houston’s suburban city halls are far less. In some cases, officials get no pay at all.
The highest paid city manager among those reviewed by 11News is Sugar Land's Allen Bogard who’s paid an annual salary of $191,000.
"My compensation has never been an issue," said Bogard who points out his over two decades of municipal management experience. He oversees 500 employees and administers a $200 million budget.
Another top earner is the city manager of Baytown, Garry Brumback, who makes $165,000 a year.
"I am being paid very reasonably compared to those in the corporate world that would have responsibility of a similar size," said Brumback, who manages 750 city workers and a budget of $110 million.
City managers contend that as professionals, they can often do a better job of running city services day-to-day compared to an elected mayor who may not have the same set of skills. That’s why some suburbs pay their officials little or nothing.
Baytown’s and Friendswood’s mayors and members of the city council make the least: zero.
Sugar land’s mayor is paid $14,000, Humble’s $3,600, Conroe’s $25,000. Suburbs which do pay their city council members have salaries ranging from $3,600 in Humble to $14,000 in Sugar Land.
But there’s one suburb where the top elected official makes far more: Pasadena.
Mayor Johnny Isbell is paid $132,000 a year. Why so much? He’s full-time. Pasadena considered, but rejected having a city manager.
A spokesperson for the mayor said they feel it’s giving Pasadena taxpayers “more bang for the buck” by paying their mayor less than many suburbs spend on a city manager and a mayor. Isbell certainly had experience managing a payroll: he founded Apache Oil Company, a distributor of fuel and lubricants.
Some of his constituents said they felt they were getting a good deal.
"My opinion, if he's doing a good job, he deserves it," said Pasadena resident Kino Rivas.
A similar opinion could be found among the upscale shops and restaurants in Sugar Land’s newly developed Town Square where City Hall is located.
Asked if their $191,000 a year city manager was tax money well spent, Sugar Land resident Ginger Hoffmaster responded, “Fairly well, yes…If you want somebody good you got to pay for them.”
Here are salaries paid by Houston’s bigger suburban governments and, for comparison, by the City of Houston: