About 19 million public employees cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion annually.
That’s according to OpenTheBooks.com, which publishes the salaries of public employees from every level of U.S. government. The online database is free and accessible to the public.
“Public service is supposed to be about serving the people,” Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of OpenTheBooks.com, said. “However, the good intentions of America’s 19 million public employees come at a very high price for the people – nearly $1 trillion. In many cases, taxpayers generously fund these employee salaries.”
As the federal government enters Day 6 of a partial shutdown, Watchdog.org OpenTheBooks.com, one of the largest private databases of government spending which posts “every dime, online” of local, state, and federal government spending in the U.S. that it accesses. For this report, it filed requests and captured data from nearly 60,000 government employers, mapped the information and posted it online over the course of one year.
The data represents about 85 percent of all public employment at every level of government, the site states. The data includes employee name, salary, position title and employer for 2017.
The search function allows users to view the top two million public employees earning more than $95,000. Last year, about 1.7 million government employees earned $100,000 or more per year. State and local governments employed the vast majority of the six-figure earners.
Data also show that 105,000 local and state government employees earned more than every governor of all 50 U.S. states with a salary of $190,000 or more.
Andrezejewski highlights examples of what he describes as government waste and abuse of taxpayer money. Chicago tree trimmers, he points out, earned $106,000 and New York City school janitors earned $165,000 – more than the principals at the same schools, who earn $135,000.
Lifeguards in Los Angeles County, Calif., earned $365,000, while the school superintendent of a small school district in Southlake, Texas, earned $420,000, Andrezejewski notes.
OpenTheBooks.com urges the public to expose “waste, overspending, and bloated government” in their neighborhoods by using the site’s interactive map. Users can search by zip code and scroll down to see results in chart and map form. They can then demand accountability from their local and state governments, the site explains.
In California, for example, nearly 10,000 employees of the University of California system earned more than $200,000 – including 65 highly compensated public employees who earned between $1 million and $3.6 million.
In Illinois public school districts, OpenTheBooks.com partnered with Fox 32 Chicago to investigate school superintendents. The investigation found that the superintendent of Calumet City earned $407,000 for a district with only 1,100 students and no high school. Another superintendent earned $206,000 in the New Lenox district, responsible for only 11 teachers and fewer than 100 students. Another superintendent retired on a $300,000 annual pension from the Park Forest district, and was later rehired on a $1,200 a day consulting contract for the same position in the same district.
OpenTheBooks.com found that many city administrators, legal/law enforcement, and athletic coaches earned more than any U.S. president, and more than their own state’s governor.
In Florida, the Dania Beach city attorney for a seaside community of 32,000 was paid $436,917, a salary greater than any U.S. president.
In Texas, 356 municipal employees earned more than the state’s governor, Greg Abbott. In the small town of Stanton, Texas, (pop. 2,900), the city manager earned $314,696. In Whitesboro (pop. 4,000) and Manvel (pop. 10,000), city administrators earned $312,000 and $292,529, respectively.
Eight police officers and detectives at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey earned between $300,000 and $783,000 last year, according to the database.
Public college football coaches earned far more. Last year, for example, the retired University of Oregon football coach received a $558,689 annual pension, and the fired Arizona State football coach received a $15 million payout. Nick Saban, at the University of Alabama, earned $11 million.
Citizens “must insist on good government where they live,” Andrezejewski argues. “The people have the power to hold local politicians accountable for tax and spend decisions.”
“Remember, it’s your money,” Andrezejewski says. Government payrolls, he argues, are the number one issue affecting state budgets and public services. More money would be accessible for public services, he says, if government salaries and pension benefits weren’t so high.
This article was first published by Watchdog.org.