The lowest-paid workers took the biggest hit in last year's budget cuts at Fresno City Hall.
Including both full-time and part-time workers, both permanent and temporary, there were 474 who made a base salary of less than $10,000 in 2010 but only 375 -- 21% fewer -- at that level in 2011.
Over the same period, the number making base salaries of more than $100,000 dropped only from 94 to 91, a 3% decline.
When overtime and other supplements are included, the number making more than $100,000 actually rose by 14%.
Those conclusions are drawn from city payroll records requested by The Bee and posted Sunday in searchable form on fresnobee.com, along with similar records from 32 other central San Joaquin Valley cities and county governments. It's the third year of local government salary data collected by The Bee.
Payroll records for the region's community college districts, unified school districts and high school districts will be posted in coming weeks.
Among those central San Joaquin Valley cities and counties, the biggest drop in payroll was more than 12% in Coalinga. Thirteen cities and Fresno County spent more on payroll in 2011 than in 2010.
Overall, the city of Fresno's employee head count dropped by 10% between 2010 and 2011. But the cash it paid out to its employees dropped only half that much.
Among the reasons: Raises for many remaining employees, a 2% rise in overtime and a 1% increase in "other pay," which includes cash payments for accrued sick leave, vacation time and other allowances for departing employees.
Those payments to departing employees are one target of Mayor Ashley Swearengin's 10-year plan for restoring the city's financial health, the Fiscal Sustainability Policy.
"A lot of money goes out there," City Manager Mark Scott said. "We've done a lot of talking about that."
The policy calls for the city to "develop a city-wide program for leaves that reduces long term liabilities and is rational, sustainable and consistent with community standards."
Putting such a program into effect for all workers, however, would require cooperation from the city's employee bargaining units.
Ten employees who left the city during 2011 received cash payouts of more than $50,000. The highest was Gerald Todd, who was most recently a management analyst in the Public Works Department. He collected $82,522.73 in "other pay" last year.
Among city departments, the Parks, After School, Recreation & Community Services Department saw the biggest cuts in 2011 in both payroll, which dropped by 29%, and head count, which declined by 31%. Of 429 employees who worked for the PARCS Department in 2010, 131 left in 2011, including its director, Randall L. Cooper, whose duties were assumed by an assistant city manager, Bruce Rudd.
Other major departments, including police, fire, public utilities, public works, airports and transportation/FAX, saw much smaller cuts of 10% or less.
But Scott and other city officials said some of those departments already had taken large reductions when the city's financial crisis worsened in 2009.
"In looking at head count numbers for the three years, just about across the board, it's about 30% in every department on average," Assistant City Manager Renena Smith said.
Scott said Fresno's dwindling city work force has resulted in service cuts, and those have been noticed by residents, who complain "that their potholes aren't getting filled, that their street lights are out.
"We're hearing that when they call the Police Department they don't come out on burglary reports like they once did," he said. "Or when they come into the office they have to stand in line for an inordinate amount of time. All of which is true and not something we're happy about."
Some of the slack has been taken up by volunteers, especially in park maintenance, where two programs have attracted almost 30,000 hours of volunteer labor in less than two years.
For this year, Scott said he is counting on persuading the city's bargaining units to accept cuts in salaries, health and retirement benefits, and other areas in lieu of further work-force reductions.
"From this point forward, we're not likely to cut a lot of employees," he said. "What we're hoping 2012 will show is that starting mid-year that we'll have had more concessions from the employees and that we'll have reduced payroll accordingly."
Senior administrators and medical personnel drew the highest local government pay in the central San Joaquin Valley last year, according to data collected by The Bee.
The top two were a pair of psychiatrists working for Fresno County, Joseph Alimasuya and Pratap L. Narayan.
Next were the former city managers of Coalinga (Bill Skinner, who left the job in August through a mutual agreement with city officials) and Corcoran (Ron Hoggard, who retired), and Madera City Administrator David Tooley.
Go to fresnobee.com/citypay to search the database, which tallies gross pay.