Report: More than one-third of Chicago city workers make more than $100K annually

Report: More than one-third of Chicago city workers make more than $100K annually

Median pay for city workers was nearly $93,000 in 2016.

A new report from the Chicago Sun-Times shows more than 1 in 3 Chicago city workers made six figures in 2016, with 36 workers making more than Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In 2016, the median pay for city workers reached nearly $93,000. The Sun-Times report also shows that only 13 percent of state employees make six figures, and only 11.6 percent of Cook County employees make at least $100,000 annually.

Of the city’s 35,274 employees, 13,767 make $100,000 or more, which totals $1.7 billion, or more than half of Chicago’s roughly $3.1 billion payroll, according to the Sun-Times.

The report also reveals the number of city workers making six figures is skyrocketing. A 2016 report from the Better Government Association, or BGA, showed that only 15 percent of city workers, then 4,813, made six figures or more as of March 2016.

The Sun-Times report shows nine of the top 10 highest-paid city employees were either fire department or police department employees. However, the single highest-paid employee was Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans, who took home $400,000 in 2016, which included a $100,000 bonus.

And it’s not just regular wages and salary.

Overtime is driving up costs, with 25,712 employees being paid $309 million in overtime, or 10 percent of the city’s total payroll costs. The single two largest groups of workers receiving overtime are employees in the police and fire departments.

Other kinds of pay are also driving up taxpayer costs. Uniform allowances, retroactive pay raises, holiday pay, shift differentials, duty-availability pay, and other compensation amounted to more than $164 million, according to the Sun-Times.

The Sun-Times report also broke down Chicago city employees’ median pay.

The median pay for city workers was $93,000, while the median income for Cook County government employees was $60,836, and for Illinois state workers, $65,893.

But this is nothing new for Chicago.

Payment information obtained by BGA showed the number of city employees earning six figures had more than doubled from 2013 to March 2016.

Of course, higher salaries and wages will mean higher pension costs. In 2016, the city raised the water-sewer tax for the municipal workers pension fund, and in 2015, Chicago passed the highest property tax hike in modern city history, largely to pay for ballooning pension costs.

It’s vital that the city bring down spending to a level Chicago taxpayers can afford. Chicago residents currently face a high tax and fee burden and are expected to pay even more in 2017. Chicago already has the highest combined sales tax rate of any major U.S. city. And over the years, the city has also imposed new and increased taxes on a variety of goods and services. These include: a $9.50-per-month garbage collection fee, a 3 percent tax on nonalcoholic beverages, a water-sewer tax hike expected to bring in $240 million per year by 2020, a tax on ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft, a $1 million tax on e-cigarettes, a $50 million increase in 911 fees, a $12 million tax on plastic bags, a tax on video streaming services, and others. The last thing Chicago residents need is another tax hike.

But the fact that one-third of the city’s workforce earn more than six figures makes future tax hikes even more likely.

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