SAND CITY, Calif. -

One tiny Central Coast city is able to pay its employees nearly $91,000 a year, making it the third-highest pay for city workers in the state, according to the State Controller's Office.

Mayor David Pendergrass said big retailers that are part of the city play a huge role in the revenue and thriving economy.

"We're doing things other cities wish they could," he said.

Sand City is a city with a population of just more than 400 people, yet about 40,000 people stop by daily just to shop.

"The shopping centers there help pay for our services," said Mayor Pendergrass.

That income tax from those big retailers also is a big boost when it comes to compensating city staff.

While the mayor said the average of nearly $91,000 is not any more than any other city on the Peninsula or county, that's not the case. Monterey county employees actually get a little more than $62,000 on average, according to the State Controller.

"Most local areas you've got large residential areas, a lot of streets, a lot of expenses, a lot of things to maintain," said Dr. David Anderson, political expert for Central Coast News. "And what Sand City's got is not a lot of that burden. It has a lot more revenue than it does expenses."

Anderson said other cities face a more complex challenge in bringing in a steady revenue stream.

"Salinas is a good example, because they're confined a little bit geographically, because every time they expand they're taking valuable agricultural land," Anderson said.

Mayor Pendergrass said Sand City has also contracted its fire services for the last 20 years. It also contracts with the city of Monterey for building inspections and car repairs. In addition, Sand City also provides its own water supply, all areas that have helped the city cut costs over time.