Los Angeles’ city workers can benefit from generous payouts from an oft overlooked bonus system. The payouts are often modest, but they can range as high as 25% of the yearly salary.

Some of the bonus pay is based upon requirements of a position. For instance, there is a bonus paid to fire fighters for being certified as an emergency medical technician. Also, POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certification secures extra pay for police officers, and it too is a requirement of the job. For having the minimum certification, police officers receive an extra 3% of their salary, and firefighters with their EMT certification also receive 3%.

Combined, police and fire incentive pay amounts to $115 million annually.

These bonuses are ways to shield extra pay from public scrutiny, while still offering potential new hires total compensation packages that will recruit greater talent. But as the city is facing a $350 million budget shortfall, some are saying the program needs review.

From the Los Angeles Daily News:

Los Angeles city leaders are currently in negotiations with workers, and the talk is all about concessions to avoid furloughs and layoffs. Some unions have already agreed to pay more for health care or for retirement costs. Others are still wrangling with the mayor, City Council and CAO representatives.

And during these talks, everything should be on the table and open for discussion – and that includes the millions of dollars in bonuses that have become a permanent, but rarely mentioned, fixture on the city’s books.

As a Daily News investigation on today’s front page shows, the city of Los Angeles spends about $150 million a year on pay classified as a bonus for one thing or the other. Yet, it’s money that’s never talked about during discussions about employee pay.

Read the full article here.