October 22, 2021
Working Toward More Informed Decisions
By: P.A.G.E. Cofounder Heather Disselkoen
Many people in our community have either stated or implied that City of Pocatello employees are not paid appropriately. We strongly stand with the community in supporting our employees and in the desire to see they are appropriately compensated. The best way to objectively examine this issue is to look at what the pay structure reveals. No interpretation is needed. People can read and draw their own conclusions. Additional information is necessary and should be part of the discussion, also, because in some cases, actual compensation extends beyond just base salaries. “Appropriate” also needs to be contextualized with regard to the community. Pocatello has a median salary of $46,617 in 2019 dollars per the Census Bureau QuickFacts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics places our “Median Income” at $46,800 for May 2020. That fact, too, must be part of any discussion.
Pocatello for Accountable Government Entities (P.A.G.E.) has posted information to assist members of the public in forming their own opinion through its comparisons of FY21 low, median and high ranges of salaries by position and departments between comparable cities which we began publishing in July and have continued to provide as time allows. These comparisons have limitations because they do not take into consideration whether two similar titles across two different cities share the same duties and/or have the same minimum qualifications. That is best left to a professionally procured salary comparison. The tables do provide a broad overview for the public to examine. In addition to these comparisons, P.A.G.E. also recently posted the “Top 100 2020 Gross Incomes by Title” report which was an existing H.R. report providing a different look at some salary information.
Our followers are not “headline readers.” We trust them to read the data we share in its entirety including the disclosures/limitations. Many factors impact pay scales including levels of experience, requirements of specialized degrees/certifications, etc. When examining our latest post, it is obvious by comparing the “base salary” column to the “gross salary” column that in some positions, add-ons such as overtime, call-in pay, specialty pay, etc. account for the difference. We take suggested improvements and make every effort to incorporate them into future versions when possible.
The Idaho Public Records Law Manual states: “Open government is the cornerstone of a free society.” Citizens have a right which is protected in Idaho public records law to monitor the actions of our state and local government entities through accessing government records. P.A.G.E. gathers data through public records that is of interest to the public and shares it with the intent of helping our citizens to become better informed about their government. By sharing information on our Facebook page, that single record request serves a greater public purpose as it has the potential to reach up to a few thousand people or more.
P.A.G.E. is occasionally disparaged for posting public records and we have been accused of attacking city employees. Why are factual reports that come directly from City Departments equated to attacks on employees? Why does attempting to seek answers to reasonable questions elicit this type of response? This is for the public to decide. Public records and the information contained within belong to the “People.” P.A.G.E. will continue to seek information that answers the publics’ questions and helps our citizens to make more informed decisions as voters and continue to encourage an expanded “Open Government” in Pocatello. If you would like to help us in our efforts, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Pocatello4accountability.