Friday, July 22, 2011

Orland Fire Protection District posts salary, compensation and benefits listing

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Although the Orland Fire Protection District has in the past published the general non-specific overview of employee wages as required by law, the board has directed the posting of the specific details of all employee wages to provide complete transparency for the public.

The posting allows the public to better understand how its taxpayer funds are spent by the OFPD.

Click here for the link to the full wages and compensation document.

Click here for the link to the annual Treasurer's report which lists wages based on "ranges."

Full Press Release from OFPD Board President Jim Hickey:


Ray Hanania
Tuesday July 19, 2011

Orland Fire Protection District releases full wage breakdown for 2010

Orland Park -- The Orland Fire Protection District Tuesday released a comprehensive breakdown of all wages that employees received during the calendar year 2010 as a part of a new effort to provide full public transparency.

OFPD Board President Jim Hickey said the document is intended to educate taxpayers and the public about how their money is spent and allow a better understanding of the economic challenges facing the district.

In releasing the records, Hickey also called on the Village of Orland Park to follow suit and urged the Illinois General Assembly to enact legislation requiring that the full and comprehensive wages of all public employees in all government and public agencies be made public without the requirement of a Freedom of Information Act request.

"The public has an absolute right to know how their money is being spent. Withholding this information, as the Orland Fire Protection District has done in the past, has put the interests of taxpayers of the district at a disadvantage," Hickey said.

"How can the public properly assess what is appropriate spending practices when they have absolutely no idea what salaries their employees receive. Each and every member of the Orland Fire Protection District works for the taxpayers. Not releasing the information has sent an inaccurate message about the district and has fed negative stereotypes and misconceptions about the district."

Hickey said as a board member for only two years under the prior administration, the information was not even made public to board members.

"I am stunned by the numbers myself. I can't imagine how a district board or commission can exercise their fiduciary responsibilities fully without knowing the totality of the wages being paid to our employees," Hickey said.

Hickey said he believes the public will at first react with "sticker shock" at the numbers, but releasing the information will help the district get a better handle on expenses.

"Just after the Orland Fire Protection District has begun a full transparency campaign to release all public records and place them for easy and immediate public access on the district's web site, the City of Chicago did the same releasing, for the first time, a complete list of all monies received by city workers. This is long overdue," Hickey said.

"I hope other government agencies will follow suit and help restore public confidence in our governments and public officials. I urge the Illinois General Assembly to enact legislation mandating that this information be made available publicly every year without hesitation."

Hickey noted that the Village of Orland Park also announced this week plans to post public records on their web site.

"It's something the public has been seeking for a long time. Other municipalities should do the same," Hickey said.

Hickey said he knows employees will be angry that their wages will be made public but he pointed out, "Firefighters are apparently doing very well financially, which is not something we can say about the rest of society. Not releasing the data suggests they had something to hide. I don't agree that they have anything to hide. But I do know this document will help us as we move forward to get a handle on costs and better manage our spending."

Hickey said he has the full support of a majority of the board including Trustees Blair Rhode and Christopher Evoy.

Important Points:
  • ·         Releasing the full wages gives the public a complete understanding of the Fire District
  • ·         In no way is releasing the list of full wages a criticism of the firefighters, although clearly it does show that during the past eight years the union has had more leverage over costs than the needs of the taxpayers
  • ·         I support the unions but believe the district has been too generous; our firefighters are among the highest paid in the state and probably in the region which directly impacts taxpayer costs
  • ·         I think we can provide a high quality of firefighting services to our taxpayers without paying so much. Today's economy demands that we re-asses what we have been doing
  • ·         Chicago, which has a very professional and effective fire department pays far less. Mayor Rahm Emanuel also this week released the complete wages of all of the employees in the City of Chicago including firefighters. I think the village of Orland Park and other government agencies should do the same. A better and fully educated public can be more supportive of public service employees like firefighters.
  • ·         here is what the numbers show. Most workers contribute from their salaries to their own pensions but in the case of the OFPD the taxpayers are almost fully paying the pension contribution .. the firefighters are being paid very well in the OFPD and they can contribute to their own pensions and still do better than most people when they retire. The pension contributions are among the largest added benefit to the firefighters but this is closely followed by overtime costs which are too high and must be curbed

"We need to do a better job of representing the interests of the taxpayers when we negotiate with the unions in the future. The past administration was too generous and that's because the public was unaware of what they were being forced to pay. At least the taxpayers should have a voice in what wages should be in the future ," Hickey said.

This circumstance is like a company which doesn't even know what they are paying their employees, Hickey argued. The company and owners in this case are the taxpayers. This cannot continue.

Hickey said the wages will be published every year moving forward. (In the past, the wages were partially published in "wage groups." The OFPD published a list of employees based in a grouping of wage ranges, but the listing did not identify benefits which are also paid completely by the District.)