Who knew that a police captain could be so touchy about the public discovering exactly what stratospheric level police salaries can reach, and that he earns north of $300,000 yearly to keep the peace in El Segundo, California, a town of 16,000 residents with no murders reported during 2009? If you didn’t before, you know it now.
Blogger David Burns kicked the incident into high gear when he discovered that 78% of the town’s 262 public employees earn over $100,000 a year, all of which comes out of the taxpayers’ pockets. There is no apparent reason for this laid-back ode to 1950’s suburbia to be handing out those kind of salaries. Governing El Segundo is not especially challenging; it’s a small town in America like a thousand others. After examining city records acquired via a California Public Records Act request, Burns found that a three person voting block on the city council appear to be responsible for the precipitous rise in police salaries, firefighter salaries, and other city workers.
If you’ve been reading Heroic Investing for a while, you know that we nearly always side with the first responder as an overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated servant to the good of society. But we also realize that one rotten apple can make the whole lot taste bad, that’s why we find it necessary to point out the facts when it appears taxpayers are being gouged.
El Segundo is waiting for the second shoe to drop – the city is almost broke and recently the council dug into the last of the reserves to increase police salaries yet again, and firefighters earn an average of $210,000 per year while responding to only a handful of minor conflagrations each year, certainly not a level of risk one would associate with such generous compensation.
The natural question that comes to the collective mind of all our firefighting friends out there is this: are they taking applications in El Segundo and, if so, how soon can I start? Don’t hold your breath. A change is in the wind. Thanks to a truth-telling blogger and an incestuous (not literally, of course) city council about to plunge this small California town squarely into the red, city-wide layoffs might be right around the corner. We think someone needs to stand up and tell the taxpayers they’re sorry, then get the beating of their life from Dog the Bounty Hunter.
But that’s just our opinion.
The Heroic Investing Team
Flickr / SanFranAnnie
Tags: police salaries