The Truth About Gilbert Employees “Low Salaries”

I published this article back on 4/12/2010, but in light of the recent chant about "Gilbert employees are the lowest paid in the valley," it bears reposting.  Town employees actually earn more, on average, than private sector employees, have richer benefits, and can retire earlier.  A government employee can retire after 20 years on the job, while we work until age 66 or more.  So, we work until age 66, so we can support a government employee who can retire at age 40?

Parker Leavitt also wrote an article about this topic titled "Town Employees’ Pay Exceeds Other Gilbert Residents, but Pay Cuts a Last Resort," on 4/21/2010. Here is the link.  http://www.azcentral.com/community/gilbert/articles/2010/04/21/20100421gilbert-town-salaries-0421.html

And so, here is my article again:

You’ve probably heard that Gilbert’s Town employees are among the lowest paid in the valley. Indeed, Steve Urie, State Representative, LD-22, and former Gilbert Town Council member, has lamented many times, “Why is the Council looking at balancing the budget on the backs of employees? They work hard and do more with less.”

To whom are these Gilbert salary comparisons being made? Not to Gilbert citizens working in the private sector, or to anyone working in the private sector. Rather, municipalities compare themselves to other municipalities. This has caused compensation packages for government employees throughout Arizona to spiral upward as one municipality leverages against another to raise salaries and benefits.

So, what is the average pay for a salaried Gilbert Town employee? What is it for the hourly employee? According to Collin Dewitt, Gilbert’s Town Manager, the annual mean salary for a full-time salaried Gilbert Town employee is $81,600. This does not include the benefits package, overtime pay, part-time employees, or contract employees. Nor does it include the higher salaries of the Town Manager, full time Municipal Judges, or the Town Clerk. The annual mean salary for full-time hourly employees is $51,430.

Gilbert employees also receive a benefits 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); also 100% paid Short Term Disability. There is a Long Term Disability benefit. Most employees also receive contributions to Social Security as well as the Arizona State Retirement Fund, enabling government employees to retire at 50%-80% pay after 20 years of employment.

If these government employees represent the “lowest salaries in the Valley,” how much more are the other Valley government employees earning? Phoenix City Council Member Sal DiCiccio did an analysis of Phoenix employees and discovered that the average earnings of a Phoenix city worker is $100k per year, including benefits, but his average includes the much lower wages of part time employees.

Does it make sense for the average Gilbert private sector citizen and business owner, who has been hit much harder financially in this deepening recession, to continue paying higher taxes in order to protect government employees from suffering a minimal reduction in pay? Higher taxes mean bigger government. It’s that simple. Let our elected officials know: Enough! Live within your means. It’s time for fiscal responsibility and organizational efficiency!

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