President: Helen Robins-Meyer
Vice President: Larry Lees
Secretary/Treasurer: Birgitta Corsello
Immediate Past President: Pat Blacklock

Executive Director: Terry Schutten
phone: 916-322-2427 email:

Membership Directory:

To view a list of all CAOs, click here (password required).

Survey Results of California County Administrative Officer Salaries

The County Administrative Officers Association of California along with the League of California Cities has participated in a salary survey conducted by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). The survey was voluntary. A total of 91% of counties responded. Three counties currently do not have a CAO and the County/City of San Francisco is listed with the League of California Cities data. The Administrators reported the amount that appeared in Box 5 of the Federal W-2 form for Calendar Year 2009 which includes several income sources including annual salary and some benefits such as car allowance and deferred compensation, leave payouts and some one-time cash payments etc. In addition, some of the entries in the survey reflect a salary earned in a different job classification if the CAO was promoted from within the county during 2009. In other cases, the figures reflect salary for only part of the year, with the number of months covered shown in the results. The reported figures do not include health insurance or employer payments to defined benefit retirement programs. Refer to the comments column in the survey results for additional information.

Each one of California's 38 million residents lives within the boundaries of one of the state's 58 counties. California's counties serve a dual role. They provide a vast array of municipal services to residents, including roads, parks, law enforcement, emergency response services and libraries. Counties also serve as a delivery channel for many State services, such as foster care, public health care, jails and elections. A full list of County services can be found
here. California counties are large, complex organizations. Many California counties are larger in budget and employees than several individual states.

The County Administrator (CAO) is the county's top staff member. The CAO is responsible for the day-to-day functions of the county and all the services it provides and prepares the annual budget for the Board of Supervisors. The office typically coordinates the activities of appointed and elected department heads to ensure the effectiveness of county operations.

Unlike cities, the California Constitution requires transparency for counties in the setting of compensation. Section 1 of Article XI of the California Constitution requires the governing body of a county to prescribe the compensation of its members by ordinance and the compensation is subject to referendum. Further, the governing body of the county must provide for the number, compensation, tenure, and appointment of employees. Section 4 of that same article extends this requirement to Charter Counties. In addition, California Government Code 25300 provides that the compensation of all other county officers and employees is set by the board of supervisors and that "such action may be taken by resolution of the board of supervisors as well as by ordinance." Most counties post salary classifications on their web sites.

here to download the salary survey results.

You can also find the survey results for California city managers