Florida local government salary

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According to 2008 U.S. Census data, the state of Florida and local governments in the state employed a total of 1,049,028 people.[1] Of those employees, 832,252 were full-time employees receiving net pay of $3,302,955,436 per month and 216,776 were part-time employees paid $213,151,877 per month.[1] More than 51% of those employees, or 539,321 employees, were in education or higher education.[1]

Cities

The top salary for the city of Jacksonville in 2011 was $208,119.00 for an employee in the Medical Examiner's office.[2] The top salary in Miami for 2007 was that of the City Clerk, who made $193,385.[3]

Tallahassee received an A rating on its pension plan in a recent study by the LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI).[4] For a city to receive the F rating on this scale, the pension plan must be funded at less than 60 percent. This list includes Panama City, funded at 58.53%, and Miami, funded at )%.[4]

Counties

The top salaries in Florida county government jobs vary by county. In Miami-Dade County, the highest earner was the Director of Audit and Management Services, who made $230,549.87.[5] The highest earner in Broward County in 2009 was the County Administrator, who made $301,154.[6]

In Palm Beach County, salaries for 50 different general pay grades range from $18,665.92 annually, all the way up to $126,553.24 per year (or $139,524.32 with 20 years of service).[7]

Hillsborough County, in response to a Florida Sunshine Law request by Sunshine Review, released its employee salary data. Data as of December 2011 shows that the highest earner in the county was the Chief Medical Examiner, who brought in $250,411.20.

School districts

State government employee salaries- select school superintendents[8]
District '08 salary Total compensation Current superintendent
Brevard $204,941.00 $265,613.00 Richard DiPatri
Dade $275,000.00 $330,502.00 Alberto Cavalho
Hillsborough $257,958.00 $297,231.00 MaryEllen Elia
Jackson $99,554.00 $130,897.00 Lee Miller
Palm Beach $249,999.00 $315,000.00 Arthur Johnson
Sarasota $179,620.00 $266,207.00 Lori White

Law enforcement

In the Miami-Dade Police Department, police lieutenants with at least two decades of service can earn in the low-to-mid $100,000s.[9] The average base salary for a full-time sheriff’s office employee is $67,492 in Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office employees as of September 2011.[10]

For the Broward County Sheriff, one lieutenant's base pay in 2009 was $274,754.47, which went up to $287,357.74 when other factors were applied.[11] The sheriff for Hillsborough County earned $149,406.40 during that time.

Fire departments

For the Miami Fire Department, the fire chief brought in the highest salary in 2007, earning $162,579.00.[12] In Jacksonville, the Fire Chief also brought in the most money, earning $154,875.00 in 2011.[13]

Salary articles

In 2011, Sunshine Review requested salary information from 19 local governments in the state.

Cities

Counties

School districts

Law enforcement

Fire departments

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.[14] 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.[15]

For comparison:[14]

  • 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.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[18] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[18] 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.[19][20] 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.[16][15] 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.

External links

References