Milwaukee County employee salaries

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search

A Milwaukee County employee salaries and overtime database is available at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online.[1]

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin had a population of 947,735 as of the 2010 U.S. Census and the county seat is Milwaukee.[2] Milwaukee County employs approximately 6,660 employees.[3]


Title Salary (maximum annual)
County Executive $129,114
Board of Supervisors $50,090 annually*
County Treasurer $83,982
County Clerk $84,276
Sheriff $132,290
District Attorney $122,662

(*)Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo proposed cutting the pay and benefits of county board members starting in April 2012. At the time, supervisors earned $50,090 per year, but the resolution would reduce that to just $15,000. The measure, if adopted, was expected to save county taxpayers more than $850,000 per year.[4]

Top 10 highest-paid workers

Title Overtime Annual salary (maximum)
DHHS Medical Forensic Director $31,489 $222,700
Medical Examiner $0 $210,840
DHHS Medical Crisis Director $10,098 $202,421
Medical Detention Director $0 $192,694
Medical Acute Services Director $0 $189,359
Medical Director MH $0 $184,512
Staff Psychiatrist $5,983 $179,380
Medical Examiner $0 $178,508
Medical Program Director CATC $0 $177,873
House Physician $588 $176,040

Twenty employees make in excess of $150,000 and 115 employees make in excess of $100,000.[5]

Projected pension cost

The 2010 Annual Report by Pension Board reported that the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) experienced a positive investment return for the year of 12.1 percent. As a result, net assets available for pension benefits increased $72.6 million. This increase included $32.9 million in actual county contributions. Total assets at the end of the year were $1.895 billion.[6]

Car use/purchasing

A breakdown of cursory information regarding vehicle purchase and maintenance is available in the budget.[7]

Effective in 2011, all new vehicles and equipment were to be placed on a replacement schedule of either three, five or eight years. After replacement, depreciated vehicles and equipment were to be sent to auction and the user department was to be credited for the revenue generated.

As a result of the new purchasing program, county departments were no longer provided expenditure authority for new vehicle leases in their operating budgets. Current leases were to be terminated upon the contract expiration and, depending upon the necessity of the vehicle, may or may not have been transferred into the purchasing program.

Fleet Management retains ownership of all county vehicles. Departments were not permitted t0 exceed their 2011 
vehicle allotment without approval of the County Board.

March 2010 bond issue (vehicles to be phased in during 2011)[8]

Description Quantity Purchase cost per vehicle
Patrol Truck (single) 11 $166,800
Stake Body 3 $75,000
Bucket Truck-Lg 1 $250,000
Dump Truck-Md 1 $75,000

March 2010 bond issue (vehicles to be phased in during 2012)[9]

Description Quantity Purchase cost per vehicle
Market Squad Sedan 22 $27,000
Market Squad Tahoe 16 $39,000
4X4 Pickup Utility 6 $45,000
Du4X4 Pickup w/plow 21 $33,000
Sedan 21 $20,000
Cushman 15 $20,000
Patrol Truck (single) 14 $170,000
Patrol Truck (tandem) 1 $190,000
Wheel Loader 3 $194,000
Street Sweeper 3 $264,000
Transport Bus 1 $64,000

2011 vehicle and equipment allotment per department[10]

Department Total
Parks Department 841
Sheriff 180
Highways Division 165
Facilities Management Division 40
Zoo 37
Fleet Management Division 20
Department of Health & Human Services 18
Behavioral Health Division 14
District Attorney 10
Architectural Engineering & Environmental Services 5
Information Management Services Division 3
Medical Examiner 3
Transportation Services 3
County Executive 1
Officer for Persons with Disabilities 1
House of Correction 1

Total: 1342

The county’s 2010 application for the New Freedom grant also included a “car-share” pilot program that would make handicapped accessible vehicles available to para-transit eligible residents. It was anticipated that para-transit demand would decrease to the extent that disabled riders accessed the shared car system. The shared car program is operated by a contractor and costs users $8 per hour with no tax levy expense for the county.[11]

Phone use

Telephone purchasing information is available in the 2011 adopted budget.[12]

Department Cost
Milwaukee County Historical Society $1200

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.[13] 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.[14]

For comparison:[13]

  • 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.[15]

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.[16]

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.[17] 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.[17] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[17] 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.[18][19] 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.[15][14] 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