SPOKANE--The recession limited the median household income in Spokane County to around $45,000 dollars a year, but KREM2 found more than 100 employees who work for the City of Spokane who make more than twice that.
Of 2,000 city employees, 131 of them make six figure salaries. When we researched further, we found the average city salary has climbed in recent years.
In 2009, the average city worker’s income hovered at almost $59,000. That jumped to $64,000 in 2012.
City Councilman Mike Fagan believes there are way too many city employees with high paying jobs. “We pay these high exorbitant salaries and provide or extend these golden parachute encrusted in diamond type benefit packages to folks because we want to recruit and retain the best and the brightest,” says Fagan.
We figured the city would defend the salaries of at least some of its highest paid employees; but that's not really what we found. “What we've seen over the last decade is yes, city employee's wages have gone up faster than wages in the private sector and that's of great concern to the mayor and to the council members and to the city,” says City Spokesperson Marlene Feist.
We broke down the list of all the employees who made more than $100,000 in 2011. The Fire Department tops the list with 42 employees and the Police Department is second with 18 six-figure salaries.
We found a few positions you might not think would hit the $100,000 mark. For example, Patricia Partovi with the Library Fund pulls in $125,000 a year. She oversees the city's library system. Gregory Smith with the Office of the Hearing Examiner makes $103K.
Other city employees who make upwards of $100,000 include 3 Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant employees, 2 with Sewer Maintenance, 3 more with Solid Waste and another three from the Water Division.
Feist says since the majority of employees are union members, cutting their salaries isn't easy. That appears to be the case with almost all city employees; only 20 are not represented by a union and their salaries are set by the mayor.
In recent years, several unions have taken wage freezes. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel more taxpayers hope to see.
To see the full list of city employees making $100K click here.