Despite low cost of living, Oklahoma City worker pay is pretty high

Oklahoma City’s budget touts its 2011 Forbes Magazine designation as one of “America’s Most Affordable Cities,” but many city employees are still raking in big salaries. That same 2014-15 budget warns those salary increases may leave it with a nearly $30 million gap.

The high salaries start at the top. Oklahoma City Manager James Couch’s pay in fiscal 2014 was $237,676.81, near the top of chief appointed officials in cities of similar size.

Oklahoma City Website
Oklahoma City Website
BIG PAY: Oklahoma City manager James Couch makes more than the national average
According to a database of Oklahoma City salaries obtained by, about 10 percent of Oklahoma City employees make more than $100,000 a year.

Jonathan Small, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a limited-government, free-market think tank, said state and local officials have been good at diverting attention from their spending.

“Oklahoma politicians have been very successful at getting constituents to focus on federal spending, federal government overspending, and not focus on growing local spending levels, which are at an all-time high,” Small said.

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