Monday, October 10, 2011

An Open Letter to City Employees

I understand that city employees think I'm public enemy number one right now, because I talk about employee compensation and employee benefits.  However, I think some of my positions have been misconstrued. Hopefully, this letter will help clarify things. I know it may not clarify everything, but if any other city employees have some things to add, have some information to give me (and can do it without cursing at me) I will be glad to listen and even discuss it with you.  I know there are things about overtime thresholds and differences between staff compensation and people in the rank and file police and fire, etc.  I'm glad to listen.  Hopefully, the other people can listen too.

Letter I wrote to a city employee:
I understand that city employees are worse off than they were even last year. However, and this is not meant as an attack exclusively on city employees, the amount that they've suffered has been less than those in the private sector have suffered.

I did the numbers. The average city employee is making, with salary and benefits, about $60,700. Last year they were making $60,900. I don't have numbers for the private sector in front of me, but I think we can agree that they've lost more of their average compensation. If we don't agree, I suppose I could try to look up that information.

I am not trying to knock every single city employee. This is what I don't think you and some other critics from the city workforce don't understand. I'm sure you remember the NY Times article about Wilmington, "putting out budget fires," etc. In that, they continuously mentioned closing fire station number 4.

That is where the city's profligate spending is leading. They will not be able to cover the costs and there will be layoffs or indiscriminate salary reductions.

I am aware that some employees make a whole lot of money, and some make significantly less. When I was told a starting firefighter makes less than $10 in salary, I was very surprised.

I'm not, however, going to start pointing out the bigwigs and saying that they're overpaid. They very well might be, but that decision would involve a level of administrative knowledge that I simply don't have. All that I have now is a very macro view. (Some could be highly paid and worth every penny. I don't have that level of knowledge right now.)

You have my word that I will take a closer look if elected. I will try to become as knowledgeable about each department as possible. I will try to sit in. See what is working, etc. There is no reason why good work shouldn't be rewarded, and poor work certainly should not be rewarded.

Right now, the city council's policy is indiscriminate. They simply don't fill positions if someone retires. Well, what if a particular department needs more people than another? Right now, it doesn't matter. Whatever department it is doesn't get a new person.

I think it's a cowardly solution. That's not what I propose. I propose looking at everything and making sure it's efficient. If a boss or an administrator is making $300k and new hires are making $25k, that certainly does not initially make much sense to me. Again, the reason I don't highlight something like that now is because I simply don't have that level of administrative knowledge. It will be something I work toward, and I always intend to treat people fairly. I have no intention of cutting what I view to be essential services.

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