AP analysis: Top-paid city, county employee salaries spike

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Some of Minnesota's highest-paid city and county public employees have had big pay raises since 2005, when a cap was removed that restricted salaries from rising higher than the governor's pay, according to a new analysis by the Associated Press.

In all, there are at least 145 city and county employees who take home more pay than the governor's annual salary of $120,303, and they include police chiefs, parks directors, city managers and county health officials, the AP reports. For example, in Edina, three officials make more than the governor, Patch reports: City Manager Scott Neal ($156,043 per year);
Police Chief Jeff Long and Director of Engineering Chad Millner (both make $129,958).

Minnesota's former cap on public employee salaries, the only one of its kind, was lifted in 2005, and proponents say that has helped the state attract top talent to public sector leadership jobs. Critics say sharp salary hikes aren't justified for local governments with tight budgets.

The Associated Press for its analysis examined salary data from 126 cities and counties that have populations of more than 15,000. A study is underway of competitiveness of state executive branch pay that could lead to raises as early as next year, the AP notes.

The Pioneer Press allows you to search for the top city/county salaries in your county.

The new AP analysis looked specifically at city and county employees. The state's highest-paid public employees overall are coaches, an analysis from the summer found. Eighteen of the top 20 public sector earners work for the University of Minnesota. At the very top of the list:

The top five:
1. Former basketball coach Tubby Smith, nearly $1.9 million
2. Football coach Jerry Kill, $1.5 million
3. University President Eric Kaler, $588,000
4. Professor of pediatrics Dr. Bruce Blazar, $575,000
5. Chairman of Surgery Department Dr. Selwyn Vickers, $529,000

Dayton's pay was ranked 31st compared to the salaries of governors in other states, MinnPost reported earlier this year.

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