Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Highest-Paid Local Officials

Opponents of the Maggie Brooks FAIR plan paid a lot of attention recently to an online poll on the Brooks plan conducted by the Rochester Business Journal.   First, in rallying their troops to skew it (which you can do with online polls) and then touting the skewed result.

Understandably, they've drawn no attention at all to the hard data -- not an unscientific poll -- the RBJ published last Friday.   It's the RBJ's annual list of the Fifty Highest-Paid Public Officials in Monroe County.

Who do you think we'd find on a list like that?

How about an obvious one:  Mayor Bob Duffy.   But he didn't make the list.

Let's try the Mayor's counterpart in county government, County Executive Maggie Brooks.   But no.   Brooks doesn't make the cut, either.

Neither does Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn.   Or John Auberger, Supervisor of Greece, our most populous town.   Or Sandra Frankel, Supervisor of Brighton, the most populous east-side town.

If the likes of the Mayor, the County Executive, the Sheriff and leading Supervisors don't make the list of most highly-paid officials, who does?

An elementary school principal in the City, that's who.  (Number 37 on the list).  So does another one (Number 43).

A middle school principal in Brighton (41).   A high-school principal in Fairport (46).   A Director of Guidance in the City school district (44).   These, of course, are the also-rans in the nether regions of the list of the highest-paid.

The top 12 most highly-paid public officials are all school Superintendents, with base compensation ranging from $220,000 for Number 1 to $172,000 for Number 12.

The Assistant Superintendent in Brighton pops in at Number 13, then it's a clean run of more Superintendents from 14 through 20.

"Forty seven of the 50 highest-paid people in local governments – county, town, city and village – and school districts in Monroe County work as school administrators, this week’s list of the highest-paid public officials shows."

"School administrators took the top 24 spots in this year’s list."

-- Rochester Business Journal, October 12, 2007, p.1

Thirteen out of the top 50 are administrators in the City schools, upholding the grand tradition of the worst-performing school districts having not just the highest-paid people, but the greatest number of them.

We have no reason to think that any of the school officials on this list aren’t earning every penny.   Of those few whose records or reputations we’re familiar with, not only are they worth it, but they’re making a considerable personal sacrifice to serve the calling of education, considering what they could make in the private sector given their ability and credentials.

But this list helps to illustrate why, we think, Maggie Brooks has the political wind at her back for her FAIR plan, which reduces suburban school district revenues by 1 – 2 %.   It explains why it resonates with the public when Brooks says, as quoted in the same RBJ article:
“…these well-paid and non-elected officials are choosing to sue Monroe County rather than finding a 2 percent savings in their total budgets.”


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