Some Interesting Insights Into City Employment and Our Bloated Spending ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Some Interesting Insights Into City Employment and Our Bloated Spending

The below information was complied and provided to me by reader Cindy Cole Semans. It is based on information presented to her from Julie Mussog who recently served on the mayor's contract employee committee and was provided information from Finance Director Tim Elliott. The information about overtime came from Joshua Stewart’s article in The Capital and the numbers of employees comes from the city web site.  I thank those who assisted in this effort.

While many businesses have reduced spending, budgets, benefits, departments, and employees, it is clear that our local government appears to have bucked this trend and our total property tax bills in Annapolis have gone up and up in order to balance our very bloated budget. In other words, the size of city government has grown and grown despite almost no growth in our population. At the same time, the rise in property values and thus assessments and taxes fueled this rise in spending and spending. This tax and spend government means hat you and I have paid more and more in property taxes to essentially let our city, once led by Ellen Moyer, to run a job farm. It has siphoned our personal wealth into a bloated public sector Whether it was to create a magazine, study sea level rise, build a tv studio, hire friends of the former mayor, stamp medallions or who knows what else, it was not the best way to serve the taxpayers. Did I mention how Ellen took off for six weeks one summer to visit European sister cities?

Did we get better roads? A better bus system? Did we upgrade our water and sewer systems? While we certainly saw improvements in public safety, much of that can be traced to influence and spending from outside the city. Mainly what we got were pet projects that the mayor liked as she misspent millions on messing up The Market House and the Police Department renovations. 

So again, we are confronted with the question as to what is the proper role and size of government.  Here are just a few examples of the tax dollars that have been essentially mismanaged by our former mayor and city council:
  • Increased employment by 20% and at the same time overtime has increased by 20%
  • Hendricks Study was 2008.   Raises were up to 50%.  Notable example was Police PIO (Ray Weaver at the time).  Went from approximately $70k To $110k
  • The city has 35 employees making more than $100k (not including benefits); 6% of total
  • The city has 67 employees making more than $90k; 12% of total
  • The city has 160 employees making  more than $75k; 27% of total
  • 36% of the police dept makes more than $75K
  • One city bus driver was paid nearly $90,000, including $39,565 in overtime.
  • A total of 720 people work for the city. Of those, 438 took home overtime pay in the first half of the fiscal year.
  • Many city contract employees have worked for the city for over a decade. Most city contract employees receive benefits – unheard of elsewhere. Contract employees are hired for short term tasks, one year or less and because the employer doesn’t have to pay benefits which costs less.
  • 38 contract employees were hired in the past two years. The 38 was a hiring spree that added $1.44 million to the payroll.
We must all remember that government employees are paid for by tax payers dollars. They do not work for a company that EARNS money and shares their earnings with the employees. Gov. workers work for and are paid for by the tax payers. As salaries, benefits and pensions have diminished in the private sector over the past decade our city, property taxes have increased by 76% to pay the wages and benefits our city employees. Tax payers in this city have sacrificed and carried the financial burden to employ 720 people at the current salaries and benefits for too long.  

There are still union leaders and some city council members who somehow believe that the rights of these employees come before those of the taxpayers. They believe that every government position and employee who fills it has some kind of special privilege. These aldermen, who are elected by the taxpayers and who are paid by the taxpayers. somehow believe their allegiance is to the city employees and not the taxpayers.

We as citizens and taxpayers must contact our city council members and urge them to act wisely and with common sense and to make the necessary spending cuts to bring the appropriate level of spending back to our government. Unless of course you wish to give more of your money away to finance more of their projects.

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Unknown said...

Well Said! I don't care which party is in office, tax money must be spent with care. It is clear that no care was taken in the last administration. Cohen is off to a good start with the cuts but everywhere I look I still see fat.

Ray Weaver said...

Although I rarely comment on the blogs, prefering to sit on the sidelines and watch the fun, there is misinformation about me here which must be corrected. I NEVER made 110k per year as the City PIO. Although it was reported that my pay would increase to that level, it never did. This is easily researchable at the City's HR Department. Never saw 6 figures...Not sure that I got above makes for nice copy, but it isn't true.

Thanks, Ray Weaver

Paul Foer said...

Thanks Bruce K Please fully identify yourself for future comments

Paul Foer said...

Ray Thank you. I apologize for any misinformation and am pleased to publish your comment. I did make sure that the people who provided it to me got it from reliable sources, which I mentioned in the introductory paragraph comments, in italics. I will share your email/comment with them.

Janet Norman said...

Want to correct a generalization made by Cindy. Some contract workers are paid for by fees, not from taxes. My highly qualified school aftercare director and staff (city contractors)are paid by my $3400 yearly (over $75-80K total parent input). Contract employees are not only intended for "short term" - other agencies like DNR have them all the time. I'd rather have contract employees than city employees that are hard to fire or unproductive. Let's have a specific discussion on bloated city workforce (I agree) but not make generalizations on contract employees. Equal drivel from Bob McWilliams Capital columns.

Paul Foer said...

Dear Janet

Thanks. I agree in that contractual employees are not necessarily a good or a bad thing. Each situation is different. In the case of DNR however, I suspect that much of is exists so that workers do not get benefits. However, needs change and the flexibility of the contract employee can fulfill many needs.

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