More about salaries

City staff sent this memo prior to the Brookfield Council vote on pay. It was very similar to a memo four years ago – it gave some numbers but didn’t describe how many aldermen there were on each council. It compared apples and oranges, a common theme when trying to sway a decision. That salary vote four years ago was my trial by fire — and the last time I trusted the Mayor and his staff to properly research an issue.

It makes a difference to me if 6 aldermen representing 40,000 people are making $10,000 a year rather than 14 aldermen making the same for and equal population. As you see from the chart below, that’s what’s happening in Brookfield. They may not be making the most, but they are one of the most expensive councils on the list. Milwaukee is tops with full-time aldermen, and Green Bay, with more than double the population, pays health care which can add up to $17,000.

There are several ways to break this down. I ranked the communities by equalized assessed value because that’s what the boys use to measure their worth. For years Brookfield pranced the Mayor’s third highest pay in the state as his right because he managed the third greatest tax base. As you can see, that’s no longer the case. Kenosha is now third, and Green Bay is fifth. Both communities pay a lot less at the top.

Among communities with a similar population, the mayor and the aldermanic salaries for Brookfield are very high. Only New Berlin comes close to matching the cost of government in Brookfield near the same population. Greenfield is almost as expensive when you adjust for the population and tax base. Waukesha, Green Bay, Kenosha, and West Allis are much better priced and serving more people. Franklin and Wauwatosa employ part-time mayors. Mequon is a taxpayer’s haven when it comes to government salaries and extremely high quality of life.

Don’t let your government dodge the call by saying “well, we have a full-time mayor.” Most communities now employ an administrator, regardless of the title, that is often more expensive than the mayor. Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha, Brookfield, Green Bay and Waukesha have both.

It’s the lack of full analysis that frustrates me in local government. Oh, sure, Brookfield just canned a pay raise for the council, but no one can really tell you why.

By the way, I e-mailed this chart to a couple of administrators that helped me find numbers. Somewhere, someone cares what they are paying and/or making and willing to make real comparisons.