NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

LEADING IN GOVERNMENT PAY IS NOTHING TO BE PROUD OF

December 22, 2006

Earlier this year, a consultant's report found that the city of Tampa pays its top administrators and department heads more than other local governments.  Now a follow-up study reports the city's rank-and-file workers also are paid more than average.

Sure, the city needs competitive salaries and should be able to reward top performers, but government workers also enjoy benefits and security not afforded those in the private sector.  And over the years, local governments' pay scales have inflated beyond market rate, says the Tampa Tribune:

  • The survey shows city pay is 7.5 percent above the average for local governments, which includes Hillsborough, Pinellas, Lee and Hernando counties, as well as the cities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Lakeland and Orlando.
  • The average pay of local government workers grew 26.5 percent between 2001 and 2003, while private-sector compensation grew by only 8.6 percent.
  • Hillsborough County led the salary giveaway, giving out pay raises of 7 percent for six straight years before pulling back to a still-generous 5 percent.
  • The city recently offered the police union a contract that offers raises between 5 percent and 9.2 percent, even though the Tampa Police Department already is one of the best paid in the Southeast.

The growth in personnel costs is limiting the city's ability to pay for roads, parks and other necessities, says the Tribune.  Salaries account for 65 percent of the city's operating budget.  Given the cries of taxpayers, you'd think city officials would curtail the growth in payroll.  A cap on government spending may be only way to rein in excessive government payrolls.

Source: Editorial, "A Leader In Government Pay Is Nothing To Be Proud Of," Tampa Tribune, December 22, 2006.

 

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