Gilbert Employees are the Lowest Paid in the Valley?

by Anita Christy

You’ve probably heard that Gilbert’s Town employees are among the lowest paid in the valley. Compared to whom? Municipalities compare themselves to other municipalities, not to the private sector who pays their salaries. Over the last several years, compensation packages for government employees across Arizona, and indeed across the Country, have been spiraling upward as one municipality leverages against another to raise salaries and benefits.

The Town of Gilbert Job Descriptions and Pay Ranges are seen below (taken from the Town’s website). Most employees are in the mid-range, but many are at the top range if they have been employed long enough, usually 8 years. Gilbert employees also receive a benefit package consisting of 80% paid employee and family health insurance; 80% paid employee and family dental insurance; 100% paid life insurance (up to $100k, depending on salary); 100% paid Short Term Disability; 100% paid Long Term Disability. Not only do they receive Social Security benefits, but they also receive retirement benefits from the Arizona State Retirement Fund. They receive full pay for 9 holidays each year. Employees with less than 5 years of employment accrue 2.5 weeks of paid vacation per year up to as much as 4.4 weeks per year for long term employees. A long term employee could accrue as much as 8.75 weeks of paid vacation time. They also receive up to 13 weeks of paid sick leave.

As reported in AZ Central (2/24/2010), Gilbert pays $507 per month in vehicle allowances to 23 of its employees. It is the highest monthly average of any community in the Valley. The salary of those receiving the allowance averages $114,734 – three times what the average Arizonan earns.

Gilbert’s employees are now represented by 3 different unions. As stated in the Minutes of the 5/12/2009 Gilbert Town Council Meeting, the “Meet and Confer” process of finalizing negotiations for the three Memoranda of Understanding (MOU’s) with the GPLA (Gilbert Police Leadership Association), the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters), and the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), through mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, took over 2000 hours of Gilbert Staff time to complete. Remember this expenditure of Town Employee staff time when you hear about the town employee to Gilbert resident population being the worst in the valley.

Also, keep this in mind when you hear that there are only 6 employees for every 1,000 Gilbert residents. Gilbert has one of the highest percentages of children under the age of 5 years old (9.9%) of any other community in Arizona. Also, Gilbert has the lowest percentage (65.1%) of adults between the ages of 18 and 64. For example, 82.2% are in this age range in Scottsdale; 80.8% in Tempe; 73.6% in Mesa. This is the age range (18-64) that commits most crimes. (These statistics were found on the U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder website, for the years 2006-2008.)