This week, the ICMA (an independent, unbiased consulting company) has presented an extensive accounting of the situation Troy is facing right now. ICMA notes that we have a HUGE revenue loss issue, resulting in at least a ten million+ dollar problem over the next five years or so. We are, they’ve reported, reaching the end of being able to “do more for less” with all the recent and proposed future cuts along with the “leading edge” reorganization tactics that have already been implemented.
Further, ICMA affirms that our public servants are paid adequately, but in no way OVERPAID. Indeed, while the mid-range salary for most Troy employees tends to be some higher than other comparable cities, our employees also tend to STAY at or near that mid-range. Other cities tend to pay all the way up to the top. In fact, the ICMA representative stated that Troy has done SO WELL in cutting back on salaries and benefits going forward that the city is actually SLIDING BACKWARD in the pay comparisons. That’s right…Troy salaries are FALLING BEHIND gradually over time.
Yet we still hear from TCU/the Troy Tea Party Patriots (and any number of other groups-of-the-moment with cutesy little acronyms) week after week about the highest paid workers in Troy and their combined $3.5m salaries. We hear about how outrageous it is that they should be compensated at that level, never mind their qualification and experience. We hear how every cut that has already been made is woefully inadequate because someone else she knows has taken a bigger cut. We hear about how much the citizenry has suffered in their own financial lives, almost as if we should expect city workers to work FOR FREE simply to show sympathy for down-and-out Troy residents.
Now, I’ve shared how I teach English, not math. But if we’re at LEAST $10m short of revenue right now, even taking ALL of that $3.5m doesn’t solve our problems, does it? Not to mention that it would also leave us without the collective talent and productivity represented by those top-paid employees. But I digress…
ICMA further asserts that, all things considered, Troy actually pays out salaries that are LOWER than the private sector when one compares similar job descriptions. Part of the problem here, though, is that it’s not always possible to plug in one kind of worker from the private sector and try to compare it to another in the public sector. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from trying. For example, I’ve been told that Troy should simply hire a “retail book store manager” instead of paying a qualified Library Director. I’ve heard that some people feel a CPA is a fine replacement for a City Manager. Gosh, with logic like that, why not hire security guards for our police force?
Luckily, it doesn’t work that way. City government often hires well-qualified, educated and talented people to do the unique and important jobs of running a city government. Private sector jobs involved in similar endeavors are often filled by less well-educated employees.
And yet…we heard that private sector workers are often paid above what the City of Troy is compensating employees when all perks and benefits are properly accounted. Well, then, say the detractors…if that’s true, why would ANYONE work in the public sector? Why don’t all our talented and well-educated Troy employees go elsewhere? SURELY there’s some hidden GOLDEN TICKET OF EMPLOYEMENT that we must not be privy to…SURELY someone is lying with all this proof that Troy isn’t over-compensating anyone!
No matter how many times every effort has been made to explain it…no matter how many times we’re told Troy is managed well so far…no matter how clear it is that we have a REVENUE problem, not an EXPENDITURE problem…naysayers cry foul.
Like a child.
What does a child do when he/she doesn’t like an answer he/she receives? Screams louder, cries harder, and argues new and different variations of the same point. Gosh, that sounds a lot like some Troy citizens I’ve seen ranting at the podium at council meetings, mailing out poorly written and grammatically incorrect flyers and being quoted in biased newspaper articles. And in almost every diatribe, these people claim to have the best interest of every resident of Troy in mind. They claim that we ALL want the change they suggest. They claim we ALL are on their side and see things the way they seem them.
These people do NOT speak for the residents of Troy. These people do NOT represent me.
These people, like an errant willful child, need a time-out.