Updated numbers show that seven town employees were paid more than $200,000 in salaries and benefits in 2017. This includes the town manager and his three assistants.
But it also included the “Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Communications” ($260,000) and the “Director of Marketing and Quality of Life” ($238,000).
Oddly, the public works director and the finance director came in at well under $200,000. Who knew that social media posting and marketing jobs were more valuable and important than those who handle the money or take care of roads and vital infrastructure. I am pretty sure that fewer potholes and less traffic congestion would go a long ways to improving the quality of life for Apple Valley residents.
Another 20 employees received more than $100,000. The total cost for these 27 employees for 2017: $4,468,403. According to TransparentCalifornia.com, the remaining 205 town employees and commissioners earned a total of $4,990,566!
Please note that these numbers do not include public safety employees contracted out to other jurisdictions.
So, how much is too much?
When the average household in Apple Valley earns around $50,000 a year — that is household, not each adult — should government employees be earning five, six or seven times that amount? At what point do these salaries become excessive? Are we the taxpayers really getting our money’s worth?
I am not suggesting that all government employees should earn less than $50,000 a year and I understand that with advanced education and experience individuals should be rewarded financially. And of course there is something to the notion that you “get what you pay for.”
But does anyone really believe that every single individual is truly earning their pay and providing value to residents? Did former Assistant Town Manager Marc Puckett really earn $324,000?
Public sector executive compensation is out of control and I believe it is time to put a cap on these salaries and benefits in the name of protecting taxpayers. I don’t want to denigrate anyone specifically, but it isn’t like we have had brilliant financial minds like Warren Buffet leading our humble town. Heck, we are in a $2.5 million budget shortfall despite the fact that we are in the midst of a booming economy and all-time stock market and real estate highs.
I believe we could find talent that is just as good, if not better than many of these current overpaid employees at a reduced cost. I propose that we cap the maximum salary and benefit compensation for town employees at four times the average household income of our residents.
When you, the reader, sees your income grow, then town employees can also enjoy a boost. And when your income goes down, so too should town employees. It is time to start tying compensation to performance and results because it seems like no matter what, town employees get more and more even when you can barely tread water and keep afloat.
This would align the interests of town employees with taxpayers. The better the job performance by the employees the better the service provided to residents. When service goes up, roads improve, traffic decreases, and overall quality of life for residents’ increases — it will create a better community.
More people will desire to live here and more people will pay a premium to live here relative to neighboring communities.
This creates stronger demand on housing and rewards current homeowners. In order to afford increasing home prices, it attracts future residents with more education and quality jobs to afford the more expensive mortgages. They will value education and produce offspring that perform better in schools which will increase the quality of our schools. This will in turn produce a more desirable community and attract better jobs. Rinse and repeat.
It is time for town employees to start having more skin in the game because taxpayers are being skinned alive, asked to cough up more in various taxes while being told that they will get fewer and lower quality services, too.
It is time for the pendulum to start swinging the other direction. Let’s put a cap on executive public sector salaries. If you can’t find competent individuals for jobs that pay up to $200,000 a year, then you are not looking hard enough.
Source: Angela Valles, Apple Valley Review