Monday, February 01, 2010

Survey Says - Cheap, Cheap, Cheap

A recent salary survey comparing the 2009 pay of Monona department heads with other twelve suburban Dane County communities shows that Monona is consistently at or near the bottom of pay for nearly every position and well below the average salary. While I would not expect Monona's to regularly exceed larger cities like Sun Prairie, Middleton, or Fitchburg, we are also often paying less than Stoughton, Verona, McFarland and Oregon.

Thoughts? Prudent or penny-wise, pound-foolish?

City Administrator is 2nd lowest out of 12.
City Engineer is 2nd lowest in 2007
Police Chief is 2nd lowest
Finance Director is lowest
Police Lieutenant is 2nd lowest
Police Sergeant is 4th highest
Library Director is 4th highest
Planner is 2nd lowest
City Clerk is 2nd lowest
Park and Rec Director is 3rd lowest
Senior Center Director is lowest
Library Assistant is middle

Dane County Cities included in the survey:

Sun Prairie

Dane County Villages included in the survey:
Cottage Grove (partial)
Shorewood Hills (partial)


  1. Me says that in life, we generally get what we pay for. Not a slam at any current employee in particular, but we've had problems in the past and I know the applicant pools have sometimes been been a bit short on highly qualified and experienced applicants, no?

    On the other hand, rank order doesn't tell you much. If they are closely grouped it doesn't matter, but if the range is pretty wide, then this is an issue.

  2. You get what you pay for; anyone who doesn't recognize, to cite one example, the noticeable improvements in the library in the past year or two, and the correlation with an above-average salary, should spend more time at our wonderful (and improving) library. Likewise, woe is the council member/mayor who pinches pennies and the city ends up losing terrific people like the current city park & rec director.

    On the other hand, seeing recent management oversight boondoggles like the the non-winterized shelter, and the continuing debate about Winnequah Road, it's no surprise to see the city with a low-paid engineer.

  3. Is monona losing employees? If not were paying them enough!

  4. Overall I think it's penny-wise but rank is not that helpful. If someone would only make $50 more to work in Fitchburg, working in Monona is a no-brainer. But if it's $50,000 then we're going to be loosing some good people.
    From what I know on the list I'd say Police Chief, Park and Rec and Senior Center should be raised, to compete with Stoughton and Verona. The Rec department is especially running very well with Jake, and the city should try hard to keep him.
    Library Director should be closer to the Library Assistant. I love the library, and Eric is always there and always very helpful, but he seems to be the one running the place. Again with just ranks it's hard to tell if in the middle is right or not.
    Can you repost with numbers of the next highest place?

  5. along with a survey on customer satisfaction and staff turnover rates, we might have some useful info.

  6. No, I cannot post the other info requested - take too much time. I can say that in addition to the ranking, the salaries are also well below the average.

    No, Erick is not running the library. His salary is in the middle of the range only because the library board pushed for a sizeable increase and the mayor and council agreed.

  7. A correction: The city clerk's salary is actually lowest, not second lowest. And she has no deputy clerk, which is also very unusal.

  8. Just a point of fact. Librarian positions are different from Library Assistant positions. The Librarian positions requires a Masters in Library Science Degree and are part of the managerial group of the City. This is not to demean or suggest that Library Assistants do not make important contributions to the success of the library. Erick Plumb is the Assistant Director, which requires an M.L.S., and he is in charge of daily operations, collection development and reference and information services. The Library Director is in charge of a whole complexity of other demands, including fund raising, budget and finance, managing and supervising staff from all departments within the library, working with the Foundation, Friend's group and Library Board and City Administration. In addition, there are considerable coordinating demands with other libraries and library administration staff in the South Central Library System. Unfortunately, when the City compares salaries, they do not compare librarian salaries....they use the category of Library Assistant,(not the same as Assistant Library Director), which does not require a library science degree. It is true that people work in a location for many different reasons, not salary alone. It is a privilege to provide good library service to people in Monona and as we consistntly apply creativity and inpiration, we have seen our usage rates go up considerably. Creating a good and enthusiastic team is a core ingredient to successful public service and recognizing talent and committment is essential to long term success.

  9. Doug-
    Any chance we can push our numbers with the census like Chris Walken in this SNL skit?


  10. Did the study include health and retirement benefits or strictly salary?


  11. "Did the study include health and retirement benefits or strictly salary?" No, but health benefits will be comparable and retirement benefits identical. The retirement benefits (being based partly on salary) would reinforce the rankings.

    "Link?" None.

  12. Who commissioned the survey?
    Can we look at the data?

  13. "Who commissioned the survey? Can we look at the data?"

    It is a salary survey the city does peridoically. It's a public record, but not on the web site.

    As for the comments about the value of free cars, actually very few city employees have the use of a vehicle (police chief, fire chief, and city administrator). When used for personal use I think that is considered taxable income.

    But what exactly is the point? The fact is the city of Monona pays its department heads well below the average for Dane County municipalities. This is not really debatable nor is it something especially new.