Oakland County employee salaries

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Oakland County public employee salaries for Oakland County, Michigan employees are posted online by the county in the form of salary schedules.[1] In 2008, the county had 4,000 employees and 2,000 retirees.[2]


In 2012, a report by Hour Detroit indicated that the county executive made $173,500 annually while county commissioners made $33,782 annually.[3]

According to The Lansing State Journal, Oakland County had 1,265 public employee salary records.[4]

  • The highest paid employee was Gregory Johnson, who was a Senior Management Executive for the Department of Transportation, with a salary of $118,923.
  • There were no employees who earned over $150,000 a year.

The following were the top 10 salaries for Oakland County in 2007:[5]

Name Department Title Salary
Johnson, Gregory C Transportation Senior Management Executive $118,923
Goldberg, Howard E Attorney General Attorney Administrator-2 $117,531
Kratofil, Joseph A Transportation State Office Administrator $105,728
Travis, Cynthia D Human Services State Division Administrator $105,728
Sewell, Raymond K Labor & Economic Growth Admin Law Examiner-2a Fzn $105,652.80
Tavoularis, Leonidas Labor & Economic Growth Admin Law Examiner-2a Fzn $105,652.80
Warner, Margaret Human Services Social Services Division Admin $104,738
Mcdowell, Linda P Attorney General Attorney-Senior A $98,845.92
Farmer, William J Labor & Economic Growth Admin Law Examiner-A $98,845.92
Asevedo, Rosendo Attorney General Attorney-Senior A $98,845.92

According to a press release from Oakland County, there would be no salary changes for 2012 and 2013, but there might be a 1% salary increase in 2014.[6]

The average teacher salary in Oakland County was $66,804 (ranging from $55,300 to $74,913), above the national average. The average salary in the United States was $46,602 and in Michigan $62,262.[7]


The Oakland County website has a benefits page and some of the benefits for employees hired after 2003 include:[8]

  • Medical insurance
  • Retirement options
  • Reimbursement accounts
  • Dental
  • Wellness program
  • Short-term disability
  • Life insurance

Beginning July 1, 2010, all employees who were members of the Michigan Public School Employees' Retirement System would contribute 3 percent of their pay to an irrevocable health-care trust.[9]


In many Michigan school districts, school boards and administration were trying to balance the budgets by freezing or reducing wages and benefits of the employees who made up 80 to 90 percent or more of district expenditures.

Five teachers’ unions in Oakland County agreed early on in June of 2010 to give up some planned-for salary increases and to make concessions in their health-care plans. The concessions amounted to almost $5.4 million, in an attempt to close the $7.1 million deficit. They included Bloomfield Hills, Lake Orion, Oxford, Walled Lake and Waterford school districts.

Although reluctant to make the cuts, union leaders cited the district's willingness to make major operational changes and utilize other sources of money (primarily fund equity money) and not just employee pay and benefits to balance the budget, as a source of their willingness to compromise. Superintendent William Skilling and all administrators, supervisors, and directors also forfeited their salary increases, in a show of solidarity with the unions.[10]

But in some districts, unions were fighting to protect teachers from future cuts in the face of concessions and compromises already in past contracts. Union leader Kim Plarski of West Bloomfield Education said teachers were unfairly bearing the entire burden of deficits. Refusing to comply with the district request that teachers take a 10 percent salary reduction for one year and a step freeze (amounting to $4.2 million), Plarski stated that the district should have taken earlier steps, such as consolidating schools and adjusting transportation, instead of putting the burden on teachers.

The legislature was also under fire as teachers, unions and school districts pushed to maintain or increase school funding. Additionally, Plarski argued that the legislature should allow school districts to cross county lines to get health insurance coverage as a pool so as to diffuse hikes in premiums. For a district of 400 teachers, the price tag for health insurance is roughly $6 million annually.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

For comparison:[12]

  • 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.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[16] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[16] 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.[17][18] 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.[14][13] 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.

See also

External links


  1. Salary Schedule FY 2012, Oakland County
  2. Retiree Health Savings Plans For Public Sector Employers, April 2008
  3. Hour Detroit, "Ranking Local Government Leaders' Salaries," February 2012
  4. Lansing State Journal "State of Michigan Salary Search"
  5. Lansing State Journal "State of Michigan Salary Search"
  6. Employees may see 1% Salary Increase in 2014
  7. "Schools, teachers struggle over shrinking funds," Oakland Press, June 13, 2010
  8. Active Employee Benefits for Hires after 2003
  9. "Schools, teachers struggle over shrinking funds," Oakland Press, June 13, 2010
  10. "Schools, teachers struggle over shrinking funds," Oakland Press, June 13, 2010
  11. "Schools, teachers struggle over shrinking funds," Oakland Press, June 13, 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Los Angeles Times "Bell city manager might be highest paid in nation: $787,637 a year," July 14, 2010
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Los Angeles Times "Benefits push Bell ex-manager's compensation to more than $1.5 million," August 8, 2010
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Orange County Register "O.C. cities dash to post personnel salaries," August 10, 2010
  15. Bloomberg "California Official's $800,000 Salary in City of 38,000 Triggers Protests," July 20, 2010
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 '’Philadelphia’s Quiet Crisis: The Rising Cost of Employee Benefits, Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, January 23, 2008
  17. GovTech "California State Workers Protest Salary Database Publication," March 17, 2008
  18. The Sacramento Bee "State Worker Salary Search"