NPRI: The Perks of Public Service

Posted on July 29, 2008 at 2:25 pm

This past Friday, Louis Dezseran @ the Nevada Policy Research Institute posted a disturbing commentary on excessive government pay and perks.  Here are some excerpts (emphasis mine):

Last year, 162 Washoe County employees each cost taxpayers more than $100,000, while 61 Clark County employees each cost taxpayers more than $200,000. One Clark County official made $266,562 – almost double the salary set by law for Nevada’s governor

An open records request found that the City of Las Vegas paid more than $21 million for overtime, the State of Nevada spent over $29 million, and Clark County paid the most at more than $32 million in one year.  One Vegas city employee made more in overtime than he made in base salary. Multiple Clark County fire officials made close to $100,000 each in overtime.

Further, state and county audits found that some public employees received overtime pay despite it not being approved in advance by supervisors, that several law enforcement personnel received more overtime than their contracts allow, that some law enforcement officials were paid for overtime they did not work, and that some Laughlin police officers received both regular salary and overtime pay for the same shifts.

Public employees in some counties receive extra holiday pay for working on such faux holidays as “Family Day,” “Nevada Day” or the employee’s birthday.  Some public employees enjoy inappropriate round-the-clock use of taxpayer-funded vehicles. 

Finally, some county employees taking college classes are fronted the entire cost of tuition and books, then are paid time-and-a-half for hours spent in class.

It is commonly argued that police and firefighters have jobs that are more dangerous than the average citizen’s, so higher pay is appropriate.  But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, law enforcement and firefighting actually do not rank in the country’s top ten most dangerous occupations. Lower-paying occupations in construction, mining, fishing, roofing, farming, trash collection, manufacturing and the military see more deaths and injuries on the job than do either law enforcement or fire fighting. 

Where is accountability to Nevada’s taxpayers?  Where is the fairness to our private sector employees who earn far less than our government workers for doing essentially the same jobs?  And where is the outrage that irresponsible payroll spending by our elected officials has helped create Nevada’s current economic situation?

I encourage Nevada residents to contact their state Senators and representatives in the Assembly and let them know we expect them to pass economic reforms that will limit government spending on the salaries, overtime, and perks of our public employees.  If you receive a response, please email me or post a Comment so we can track results.

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