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Politics & Policy

Who made the most money in SF’s City Hall last year? It wasn’t Mayor Breed

San Francisco City Hall. | Camille Cohen/The Standard
San Francisco City Hall. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

San Francisco paid some city employees over half a million dollars in 2022, while others scraped by well below the region’s average salary, according to pay data obtained by The Standard. The wide pay range illustrates the vast variety of city jobs, ranging from investment bankers shepherding billions in assets to aides who clean up city property.

Overall, the city paid out about $4.39 billion in payroll to over 39,000 employees in 2022. That marks a 6% increase over 2021, the data shows.

Kurt Braitberg, managing director of San Francisco Employees' Retirement System, topped the city’s payroll, taking home over $620,000 in total pay last year. Braitberg is responsible for investment strategy for several of the city’s funds, according to his LinkedIn page. Three of Braitberg’s colleagues in the Retirement System department joined him in the top 10 city salary bracket.

The rest of the city’s top earners are in law enforcement. Ronald Terry, a lieutenant with the SF Sheriff's Office was paid nearly $600,000 last year. A sheriff’s captain, a police sergeant and two deputy sheriffs also made over $500,000 in 2022. Overtime pay accounted for most of their earnings, following a longtime trend

Mayor London Breed and most other top officials fell far short of the top earning slots in city government, though all took home salaries well into the six figures.

Many of the city’s lowest-paid employees work for the Department of Public Works. Over 30 public service aides and environmental service workers were paid less than $45,000 for a full year’s work, the data shows. That’s well below the region’s median earnings for workers, which is $76,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In total, more than 1,000 San Francisco employees who logged at least 2,080 hours—a full year of 40-hour work weeks—took home less than the region’s median pay. (The city's schools also pay some workers extremely low wages.)

The Department of Public Health is San Francisco’s largest: It paid out over $1 billion to over 9,500 positions in 2022, the data shows. The city’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) logged a distant second, followed by the police and fire departments.

More than half of the city’s employees earned six figures last year. The median pay total for San Francisco workers who logged at least 2,080 hours was over $128,000. The fire department had the highest median total pay, followed by the well-heeled workers at the City Attorney’s Office.

Correction: The number of SF employees is about 39,000, according to a clarification received from the city after publication. The original figure reported in this story included poll workers who are not technically city employees. 

Noah Baustin can be reached at