Commentary on Cabinet Pay
In fact, in the case of one department head, 44 employees under him will earn more than he does for the 2010 budget year, and 20 of those employees will make more than the city administrator.
Until the establishment of an in-house corporation counsel, the city administrator used to receive the top salary. Presently, the corporation counsel receives $29,000 more than the city administrator. All three department heads once received the same compensation, but now there is a spread between department heads and other non-union top employees of nearly $20,000.
Now that public employee salary information is online, one can see that perhaps the reason why the director of Public Affairs & Safety can accept a five-figure salary when police captains, police lieutenants, the fire chief, fire captains, deputy fire chiefs and battalion chiefs all get six-figure salaries. The Public Affairs & Safety director, who is also the police director, gets a five-figure pension in addition to his pay here.
The new director of Administration, Finance, Health and Social Services came here with a buyout package from another municipality that provided her full salary through 2009, so her compensation here is on top of that. She and the director of Public Works and Urban Development make more, though not much more, than their highest-paid division heads.
Back to Public Affairs and Safety: This department takes up the lion's share of the budget and is considered a core need for the city. The real issue here may be the number of superiors in Fire and Police Divisions. Twenty-four make over $100,000 and 37 make over $90,000. But short of a reorganization, there may not be any way to reduce these costs. There are already vacancies in both divisions.
The new Citizens' Budget Advisory Committee will soon be examining these issues. While they may conclude that budget pain must be shared across the board, it is unlikely that demands on a handful of cabinet members will make much difference to the bottom line, especially when one department head is already working at a reduced salary. Cabinet savings have unfortunately taken place already through vacancies that caused the city administrator to serve as an acting department head in addition at no extra pay.
This year's budget process is already proving to be very difficult and the road to an outcome is strewn with dilemmas. The CBAC this year is seeking input from the community at large on its new blog. Click here and have your say.