KQV AM 1410

KQV Editorial

Looking for a Raise…Get a Job with the City!

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     It is an established fact that the city of Pittsburgh has been coping with serious financial problems for several years.  Even now, the city is functioning as financially distressed under Act 47 of the state legislature.  One of the major financial drains on the city is the pension structure which is the albatross around the city’s neck.


     In our opinion, the payroll of city officials has gotten completely out of hand with salaries, overtime, and pensions.  A recent survey shows that last year 196 city workers made more than $100,000.  At the same time, Allegheny County, with more than twice as many employees as the city had 32 employees making more than $100,000.


     Overtime plays an important role in the salary structure and one of the drawbacks is that in many cases the pensions are based on salary plus overtime.  Even though the city budgeted only 18 workers to earn more than $100,000; the 96 did so, with overtime! 


     If you would assume that the mayor in the city and the chief executive in the county would be the highest paid, you would be wrong.  Mayor Luke Ravenstahl made $105,000 last year while Dan Onorato made $90,000.  This is certainly an irony in the whole salary picture.


     Actually, Jerome Wasek, a paramedic crew chief became the city’s top paid worker, drawing $174,880 while on the county side medical examiner Karl Williams was the top earner with $180,000 in pay.  It should be noted that a significant portion of Wasek’s income came in the form of overtime.


     Records show that Pittsburgh paid its full-time workers an average of $49,000 which is augmented to $59,000 with overtime.  Once again, it’s the impressive pensions paid to retired employees that keeps dragging the city down financially.


     It’s interesting to note that public employees earn better wages than their counterparts in the private sector.  In other words, employees in the private sector subsidize, with their taxes, public sector workers – although the private workers – on the whole – make less!


     It is also interesting to note that the highest paid city employees – with overtime – are policemen, firemen, and paramedics.  Nathan Renefield, director of policy research for the Commonwealth Foundation, points out that the public sector is much more heavily unionized than the private sector.  He also said when it’s a private company, the owners have control of the money.  He added – when it comes to the public sector, many decisions are made by government officials who aren’t necessarily paying the bills.


     He further commented – ‘It’s easy to give away money when it isn’t yours!  Unfortunately, with governmental affairs, too often it’s the way things work – and we’re stuck with it!


Robert W. Dickey


KQV Newsradio
June 18, 19, 20, 2010



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