Your View: Guest Column - You think government workers have ‘pay equity’?
BY PHIL SLOAN
Reading two articles from March 24 HPE on raises for county employees (page A1) and unemployment (page A3) prompted a few questions/observations. While some “public service” jobs involve either great risk (police and firefighting come to mind) or high stress levels (school teachers) that may justify some form of early retirement, most government jobs are either clerical or administrative in nature, very similar, if not identical, to jobs in the private sector.
Years ago, government pensions were installed to compensate dedicated public servants for the “sacrifice” they made working in, at that time, lower paying government jobs. Look back at HPE articles last year printing the salaries of High Point and Guilford County government employees. ... High Point has 31 people making over $100,000/year and Guilford County has dozens as well!
Now, consider that each of these people pay 6 percent of their pay into a pension system that pays them +/- 80 percent of their salaries FOR LIFE after 30 years. How would you like to make $100,000/year, pay $6,000/year into your pension, and then retire and draw $80,000/year for the rest of your life? But wait, that isn’t good enough; we (the taxpayers) also pay most of their ongoing medical insurance as well.
When Guilford County did their “pay equity” survey last fall and increased some six-figure administrative salaries by over $14,000 (HPE-Dec. 28, 2012), why weren’t the higher salaries cut back to equalize the “pay inequities”? Better yet, with Guilford County unemployment at 10.3 percent (January 2013) and many of those being recent college graduates, why not slash bloated government payrolls and replace them (if needed) with qualified people at a pay scale and 401K plan more reflective of the private sector and our current economic climate?
The present system is not sustainable; people earning $30,000-$50,000/year and working for 40-45 years cannot continue to pay higher and higher property taxes to support government employees making three or four times as much and then getting to retire with 80 percent of their salary after only 30 years. The time has come for a public discourse on realistic compensation for government workers.
Phil Sloan lives in Davidson County just outside High Point city limits.
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