Monday, November 09, 2015

One-Third Of Chicago City Employees Now Earn More Than $100,000

Chicago just passed its largest tax increase in history in large part to cover its unfunded pension liability for city employees. The $700 million in new taxes, including $588 million in higher property taxes, funds a budget that is still counting on nearly $800 million in state funding, which isn't guaranteed given the state's multi-billion dollar deficit. Perhaps related to this mess is a report by the Chicago Sun-Times that one-third of Chicago's more than 35,000 city employees now earn more than $100,000 a year with a total payroll of nearly $3 billion. Here are some of the startling findings made by the Sun-Times:
  • A total of 11,284 city workers made $100,000 or more last year, amounting to 32 percent of the payroll. In state government, 11 percent of employees made in the six figures, records show. In the Cook County government and medical system, that figure was 12 percent.
  • The median pay for city employees was $86,102, compared to $60,878 for state government workers and $63,355 for Cook County government and medical system workers. The average pay for city workers was $81,964, compared to $58,284 for state employees and $67,066 for county employees.
  • Sixty-one city employees — including the mayor and police Supt. Garry McCarthy — made $200,000 or more. Another 11,223 workers made $100,000 to $199,999.
  • The 5,569 people who drew paychecks in the fire department, from battalion chiefs to firefighters and emergency medical technicians to clerical staff, were paid an average of $111,139 — the most of any city department. Building department employees ranked second, at $88,870. Police employees were third, at $88,040. 
  • The police department allows officers to accumulate compensatory time, which they can cash out when they leave the department. Five officers retired, each collecting between $105,105 and $162,739 mostly by cashing in comp time accumulated over decades. 
  • Unlike beat cops and detectives, police supervisors can cash in 200 hours of comp time a year, which allowed several top cops to boost their pay by about $11,000 apiece. Those supervisors also were paid about $9,000 each in “supervisors’ quarterly OT.” 
  • Police officers get between 20 and 25 vacation days a year, depending on their years of service. They also get between three and six “baby furlough days” — extra vacation time that has nothing to do with babies. The city pays officers who don’t use those extra days, with some who cashed them in collecting more than $2,800 each. In 2011, the most recent for which figures were available, baby-furlough pay cost taxpayers nearly $7 million. 
  • City Hall spent $21.7 million on holiday pay — $17.5 million to firefighters and another $4.2 million to police officers. Cops and firefighters get 13 paid holidays a year — one more than other city workers get. Firefighters get extra pay for working holidays; police officers get a mix of pay and comp time. 
  • Every month, 3,856 firefighters get two “Daley days” under a program begun in the late 1960s under Mayor Richard J. Daley to reduce the number of hours firefighters work. Those firefighters typically work eight 24-hour shifts a month, which averages 44 hours a week. Without Daley days, they’d work 10 shifts a month, or 55 hours a week. Firefighters summoned to work on their Daley day get overtime. If that Daley day comes on a holiday, they get 60 hours of pay for their 24-hour shift. 
  • Police officers and firefighters who have special training get paid for that expertise — a total of more than $40 million in 2014. Cops get extra pay when they’re detailed to work for the Chicago Housing Authority, the Chicago Transit Authority or special traffic details — with those agencies or the state reimbursing the city. Firefighters get specialty pay for working as divers and for having hazardous-materials certifications, among other things.
  • The city paid police officers $36.8 million and firefighters $14.6 million in duty-availability pay — compensation for the city’s ability to call them in to work at any time.
I clearly chose the wrong profession. 


LamLawIndy said...

Is "Daley Days" really what those are called in the City's ordinance code?

Paul K. Ogden said...

1/5 of federal employees make over $100,000 a year. They average like $78,000 a year. There was a story on federal employee pay a few years ago. There were huge federal employee pay increases during the 2008-09 recession.

Anonymous said...

What is amazing is that the poor men and women working full-time, full-time under-employed, or a part-time job or two and who are overtaxed to pay the salaries of all these city employees/"public servants" will NEVER ever enjoy theses types of medical insurance benefits, paid time off days, holiday pay, perks, and bennies. That's your real income inequality right there.

Sir Hailstone said...

"1/5 of federal employees make over $100,000 a year. They average like $78,000 a year."

True, but I think its a fair statement to say 1/5 of all Federal employees live in the Mid-Atlantic region (Baltimore-DC-Northern Virginia) and you know what it costs to live in DC area.

Tandem said...

Definition of irony: A lawyer complaining about a third of ANYTHING!

Anonymous said...

What does $588M amount to in a percentage property tax increase in Chicago? It's a lot of money but a lot more people live there too.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's a very big deal for Chicago taxpayers, who already pay the third highest commercial property tax rates among the 53 major cities in this country and tenth highest taxed in the nation for residential property owners.

Anonymous said...

Sir the Firefighters and Police make great money in Chicago but they just like In Indianapolis pay high the property taxes to help pay their own wages. Now you said you picked the wrong profession. Do you think (be honest)have the intestinal fortitude to police a place like Cabrini-Green (I know it is now gone, used for illustration purposes) or fight a fire in the projects. I would bet not, or you would be doing it now. And as for special pay For driving a Fire Truck. Do you know how to drive anything larger than a Prius. Try driving a huge truck loaded with Firemen and equipment in traffic with lights and siren. Then on arrival knowing how to use the equipment,lives depend on it. Firefighters with hazmat knowledge should be paid for their knowledge also it is special and keeps both them and the public safe. I think people fail to realize Police and Fire are special jobs not everyone could do or would want to do. With risk comes reward. I really hope your comment was tongue-in cheek.

Anonymous said...

When pretend it is only Chicago? After about 3-4 years on the job an IFD firefighter is making about 60K. What Chicago calls Daley days are called Kelly days here. The extra pay for specialty training is called stack pay.