Public employees' pay

01/04/2011 2:45 PM

01/04/2011 2:45 PM

You pay public employees. Now you have an easy way to see how much they make.

A collection of databases presents this information in a way that's easy to view. You can search by job, department, or an employee's first or last name. All the information is from public records. Missouri and Kansas laws require governments to make the information available to the public.

In these databases, compensation from 2009 is available for public employees of:

Kansas City.

Counties of Jackson, Johnson, Platte and Clay, and the Wyandotte County Unified Government.

Kansas City Police Department (Because this department has a unique governing structure - it answers to a board made up of the mayor and Missouri governor appointees - its data was not part of the Kansas City municipal database and it appears separately.

States of Kansas and Missouri.

University systems of Kansas and Missouri.

Please note that the databases don't provide an apples-to-apples comparison. Some governments provide base salaries, while others include all compensation, such as overtime and other pay benefits. Information at the start of each database notes basics about those salaries.

Some include part-time as well as full-time employees, employees who worked just part of the year and other factors that affect the salaries shown. Of course, multiple factors also affect pay, including experience, education, specialized training, skill level and more.

Although the vast majority of public employees' pay comes from taxpayers, some government workers' salaries also are paid by private grants, user fees and other sources.

Why publish people's pay?

Employee salaries often make up the single largest item in governments' budgets, just as they often are the largest expense for a private company. Examining the information in these databases can provide insights on how fairly governments compensate public employees, how pay for public positions compares with pay in the private sector, how pay varies by position and more.

Missouri and Kansas laws require governments to make such information available to you, and some make it easily available. For example, Missouri already posts state employees' salaries on its

Web site , and Kansas plans to do so later this year on its Web site

about state government financial activity. Nationwide, a growing number of governments are making public employee salary information searchable.

Isn't publishing people's income awfully personal?

It is personal. That's one reason there should be compelling reasons for doing it, as noted in the preceding, "Why publish people's pay?" In addition, as public records, the information should be readily available to the public. The salary databases at Info Central do not include personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and social security numbers.

Besides being published by governments, salaries of public employees already are published in some other forums. For example, they frequently are noted in news stories about new hires, annual pay raises, budget discussions, negotiations with employee groups and more.

In the private sector, most companies release employees' pay only for top-level executives, as part of disclosure requirements of publicly held companies.

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