Small CA City Employees Living Large, Making More Than Governors
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Governments lack knowledge. And it’s what that axiom in mind that we can safely say that acting without knowledge is, even in the short run, a waste.
In the city of Santa Monica, California, local bureaucrats are making more than $300,000 a year. That’s $187,000 more than current Vice President elect Mike Pence made as Governor of Indiana the past year.
According to a local investigation, at least 105 Santa Monica employees make more than $300,000 a year, including Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Brooks, who makes $480,000 a year while public records show her base salary is at $306,000.
Overseeing 200 officers, Chief Brooks’ salary seems a bit unusual, especially when you compare it with next door’s Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who makes $344,000 while overseeing more than 9,000 officers.
Still in Santa Monica, an unnamed police sergeant raked in nearly $500,000 last year while his base pay was only $137,000. With overtime alone, he was paid about $179,000 extra but unused sick and vacation time were also added to the total, bringing the sergeant’s pay to the total of $475,000.
Others in the local force such as lieutenants, other sergeants, fire captains, and even a marshal made up to six figures by working overtime. According to the Santa Monica city manager, the high number of city employees working overtime is due to the fact that several positions are still unfilled. Currently, however, 18 new firefighters are training in the local academy. Other 18 positions are still waiting to be filled within the local Police Department.
As local transparency groups ask officials why they are having such a hard time filling positions while offering such good pay rates, they want more answers. And if public pressure grows, they may even be able to push for an audit.
As the taxpayer is forced to foot the bill, these watchdogs want city officials to be able to explain in detail why so many of its employees are making more than governors and, sometimes, even as much as the president.
Currently, Santa Monica has some of the highest taxes in the region. With the imminent increase in sales taxes projected to pass by popular vote, they will become even higher.
In other local cities such as Long Beach, watchdogs found 13 city employees making more than $300,000. The same number of overpaid employees was found in Newport Beach, but both cities have populations that are about five times that of Santa Monica.
While the figures are exorbitant, the real problem in this case is not only that government officials are clueless about what the labor market looks from outside of their offices. The bottom line is: When the money doesn’t come out of your own pocket, you do not have to be careful about how you spend it.
Seeing taxpayers as a bottomless pit of money, governments have enough incentives to keep on spending without being held accountable for how they are spending this money. In a free market where the price system is in place, the cost of labor is varied and competitive. Without the pricing mechanism, service providers are not aware of the demand, making them incapable of determining real value.
The only solution to this problem is to shrink the government. Even local ones.