Dane County employee salaries

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Dane County employee salaries are public records under the Wisconsin Open Records Law.

Salaries

In 2009, Dane County paid more than $128 million in salaries and other pay to more than 3,100 full-time and part-time employees. This number was up 3.56% from the nearly $124 million paid in 2008.[1]

Dane County salary information provided by Madison.com, posted July 1, 2010:[2]

Title Base pay Total earned
Executive Chief of Staff $103,628 $103,628
Director of Human Services $104,248 $104,248
County Executive $106,664 $106,664
Controller $108,176 $108,176
Chief Deputy Sheriff $111,376 $115,794
Sheriff $113,979 $113,979
Center Executive Director $133,665 $133,665

Top 10 highest paid workers

Name Title Base pay Total earned
Bradley Livingston Airport Director $145,556 $153,756
Thomas Schlenker Public Health Director $135,749 $135,749
William Dicarlo Center Executive Director $133,665 $133,665
Lynn Green Director of Dept. of Human Services $125,516 $125,516
Daniel Floeter Lead Judicial Court Commissioner $124, 559 $124,559
Marcia McKenzie Corporation Counsel $120,504 $120,504
Gerald Mandli Director of Public Works & Transportation $119,910 $119,910
James Olds Judicial Court Commissioner $114,587 $128,337
David Mahoney Sheriff $113,979 $113,979
Travis Myren Director of Administration $112,372 $115,375

2010 Top 25 estimated pensions

The county employee earning the highest estimated pension as of 2010 was the Airport Director, followed by the Public Health Director for the county.[3]

Title Total pension payout
Airport Director $2,807,166
Public Health Director $2,542,307
Center Executive Director $2,511,731
Director of Dept. Human Services $2,503,476
Lead Judicial Court Commissioner $2,417,145
Director of Public Safety Communications $2,406,550
Assistant Corporate Counsel $2,404,099
Assistant Corporate Counsel $2,398,661
Airport Counsel $2,398,661
Judicial Court Commissioner $2,398,661
Assistant Corporation Counsel $2,394,844
Assistant Corporation Counsel $2,391,026
Assistant Corporation Counsel $2,391,026
Assistant Corporation Counsel $2,391,026
Judicial Court Commissioner $2,387,833
Judicial Court Commissioner $2,345,219
Assistant Corporation Counsel $2,345,219
Corporation Counsel $2,318,491
Commissioner Public Works & Transportation $2,309,624
Judicial Court Commissioner $2,299,411
Director of Administration $2,290,055
Sheriff $2,259,479

(*)Total Pension Payout uses IRS Life Expectancy Tables at age 65 (21 years).

Car use/purchasing

Vehicle leasing and purchasing information provided by the 2012 Executive Recommended Budget:[4]

Department Quantity Cost
Administrative Food Services Vehicle leases $19,800*
Medical Examiner Vehicles and equipment $60,000*
District Attorney Vehicles $44,000*
Sheriff Equipment for vehicles $10,000*
Sheriff Vehicle and equipment replacement $135,000 (Executive recommendation $191,000)
Emergency Management Vehicle maintenance and operation $2,000
Juvenile Court Program Vehicle $35,000
Human Services Dept. Vehicle replacement $142,600*
Land & Water Resources Vehicle leases $12,000*
Airport Vehicle $53,000

(*) The amount requested by the agency matches the amount recommended by the Executive.

Salary records project

In 2011, Sunshine Review chose 152 local governments as the focus of research on public employee salaries. The editors of Sunshine Review selected eight states with relevant political contexts (listed alphabetically):

1. California
2. Florida
3. Illinois
4. Michigan
5. New Jersey
6. Pennsylvania
7. Texas
8. Wisconsin

Within these states, the editors of Sunshine Review focused on the most populous cities, counties and school districts, as well as the emergency services entities within these governments. The purpose of this selection method was to develop articles on governments affecting the most citizens.

The salary information garnered from these states were a combination of existing online resources and state Freedom of Information Act requests sent out to the governments.

Importance of public employee pay disclosure

In July 2010, The Los Angeles Times uncovered that officials in Bell, California were making remarkably high salaries.[5] Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo was earning a yearly $787,637. It was later uncovered that Rizzo's total compensation after taking benefits into account topped $1.5 million a year.[6]

For comparison:[5]

  • Manhattan Beach, with about 7,000 fewer people than Bell, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year.
  • Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, paid its city manager $235,000 annually.
  • Los Angeles County paid its chief executive, William T. Fujioka, $338,458.

Corruption solution

After this report was released, governments began to proactively disclose salary information of their employees. Before the end of the summer of 2010, more than a dozen cities in Orange County, for example, posted salary information on the front pages of their websites.[7]

The cost of transparency websites maintaining such information ranges from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands. These websites also save money, and this often is not taken into account when measuring costs.

Citizens upset about the breach of trust and armed with information formed a group called the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, which pushed for an independent audit of city salaries and contracts.[8]

Citizens, empowered with information, are key to keeping government free from corruption and efficient. A study published by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia revealed that the city of Philadelphia has a problem with the efficiency and costs of public employee pensions.[9] The amount that Philadelphia pays to pension recipients limits the city’s ability to use its budget effectively.

The report revealed that there were more individuals receiving pension benefits—33,907 claimants in 2006—than workers in the city—28,701.[9] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[9] First, improve data collection so that decision-making in terms of pension policies is more informed. Second, promote transparency for better accountability to citizens. Third, reduce costs and use the savings for developing Philadelphia.

Resistance to public employee salary data as public records

The idea of making public employee salaries is relatively new. In 2008, several local government employee associations and unions protested the posting of state employee salaries by newspaper The Sacramento Bee.[10][11] At the time, it was seen as a safety risk and invasion of privacy.

Sunshine Review aims in posting salary information

Publicly posted salaries often leave out important information. Salary schedules can be published as ranges, not as specific take-home compensation, and high-level, highly-paid positions are often not disclosed proactively.[7][6] Additionally, salaries leave out compensation received through health and retirement benefits, as well as benefits such as commuter allowances and cell phone reimbursements. This project aimed to close the gap and provide a more accurate picture of public employee salaries for the sake of public education and transparency.

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