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Seattle City Hall, Seattle City Council, compensation
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A look at how taxpayer money funds police and fire department compensation

(AP)

A recent piece in Forbes explores why the city of Seattle and the police department may be in trouble financially. It was written by Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of Openthebooks.com who joined the Dori Monson Show to discuss.

The article looks at the sheer amounts that government employees in Seattle are making not just in compensation, but also in pension. It started with the police department, where there are 10 cops who make over $300,000 a year.

“We actually found about 10 employees of the Seattle Police Department that last year made between $304,000 and $414,000. If you add up their total taxpayer costs of just those 10 officers, it was approximately $4 million when you add in the pay, the perks, and their pension benefits,” he said.

As Dori noted, many cops would say in response that they have been begging for extra staffing and they’ve had to have a big amount of overtime to cover the understaffing, not to mention that it’s not an ideal time to be cop in Seattle.

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“Absolutely. At Openthebooks.com, we’re headquartered in Illinois, … this is the exact problem that Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago had just a couple of years ago. They were understaffed on headcount. They were down about 1,000 police officers. He didn’t have the necessary men and women in blue on the street, so they were blowing out the overtime,” he said. “So this sounds like Seattle’s got the same problem.”

Also noted in the article is that Seattle Fire and Police have 11 people who are collecting over $162,000 every year for the rest of their lives as a pension, a benefit that doesn’t exist for most of us in the private sector, Dori added.

“You got the top retiree over at the Fire Department making $233,000 a year in retirement from his lifetime payout of public pension. That happens every single year … this is a function of the strength of the unions. I think we have to examine that. Why do police and firemen need an intermediary between the politicians that are elected by the people?” Andrzejewski said.

“When you have a strong police and fire union, it’s all of this compensation, the perks and the pension benefits taxpayers end up paying for.”

In the article, an SPD spokesperson made the following statement with regard to police salaries:

“Compensation for our officers is set through the collective bargaining process pursuant to state law. It should be noted that compensation reported for 2019 includes retroactive compensation for 2015-2018 due to the union contract having expired.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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