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Monday, September 28, 2009

Salaries over $100,000 in Plainfield

Today, Gannett NJ's examination of New Jerseyans' tax burden includes data on top salaries, including Plainfield (see story here).

Since the lead story identifies 150 public employees in the Courier service area as earning over $100,00, but the table lists only one for Plainfield, I did a little sniffing.

Gannett's online database, Data Universe, returns the following information for Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' cabinet-level appointees for 2008 --

City Administrator
Marc Dashield
Bibi Taylor (New hire)
Public Works/Urban Dev
Jennifer Wenson Maier
Public Safety/Police Director
Martin Hellwig
Corporation Counsel
Dan Williamson

Whatever you may think of the compensation levels, it is odd that the database returns no result whatever in a search for Martin Hellwig by name. This is unusual since the database is supposed to contain the name of EVERY public employee drawing a salary in the state of New Jersey, whether local, county, or state employee.

Which leads to the question of just how Plainfield reports Director Hellwig's salary.

NOTE: I did not search for School district salaries, quite a few of which are over the $100,000 threshold.)

-- Dan Damon

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PubliusNJ said...

I have no problem with employees at this level making 100K or more. They're smart, they're educated, they work hard. (I do have a problem with the idea of making public employees's salaries public, but that's another comment.)

What I would like to know is:
how many people total does the City of Plainfield and its related agencies (PMUA, PHA< ETC) employ?

What is their median salary?

How many are union?

Anonymous said...

I believe Martin Hellwig makes around $90,000, which lead me to ask the question, why would you put up with all this abuse for 90K?

In any event, I am glad he is here.

PubliusNJ said...

I forgot the to include the most obvious related agency: the Plainfield School System.

Anonymous said...

In my little home in plainfield we bring in just over $100,000 and we can barely make ends meet. $100K is not a big deal these days. Why is this news, Dan?

Anonymous said...

So much for the "myth" of the underpaid government worker...and, don't forget -- their pensions and benefits far exceed the private sector....

Dan said...

To 7:34 AM --

Why is it news? You need to ask the Courier. But, since they bothered, and I knew the Corporation Counsel wasn't the only one, I checked it out.

If it's hard to make ends meet on $100,000, what must it be like for folks who work hard and only pull down $40,000 a year or so?

PubliusNJ said...

I agree with 7:34 up to a point. $100K ain't what it was in our parent's time, but to most in Plainfield it's still a ton of money (including me).

Dan- Please consider posting the number of PMUA, PHA and PSS employees that also make 100K to get a truer picture of the managerial class that our taxes support. With the lack of significant businesses in town these are the opinion leaders, and they owe their livlihood to the city in one way or the other, which obviously colors their opinions.

It's would be good top know how many are out there with a significant, direct financial interest in the continuity of the present city government. Yes, I know that many of the positions are not controlled directly by the administration, but some are, and many more are indirectly influenced by the city Democratic committee.

Anonymous said...

Check PMUA - They have at least 5 making over $100. At least one with $130K +

Anonymous said...

To 7:34am ...

Gannett would tell you it's news because the comparison of salaries of public employees in N.J. to their counterparts in other states (e.g., Pennsylvania) shows a painful truth. Namely, we pay more in taxes because, in many cases, employees here make more, and because there are so many more municipalities in N.J. than in other states.

That's a simplistic statement, though. You have to read the story's centerpiece from the weekend ( to get a better view.

Look, there are obviously a number of factors involved in this complicated issue -- such as education spending, economic segregation, etc. But one is ...

"A number of local patrol officers easily exceeded $100,000 a year with overtime. By comparison, the average patrolman in Philadelphia last year was paid $68,500, including overtime, according to the city's payroll list. The police commissioner earned $186,000 to oversee a department that protects a city of 1.4 million people. Last year, $209,000 was paid to the police chief of Manchester, population 41,000."

I'm not suggesting cops' salaries should be cut. Not necessarily, anyway. But the point about public employee salaries is valid as a component of the overall problem.

And to 6:47am: I could not disagree more strongly. Public employees' salaries should ALWAYS be public. Always.

Anonymous said...

You hit it on the head as to how Many employees there are. Got junk thrown on your yard ? You will talk to 5 people before the minimun wage employee comes out to do the actual work.

Rob said...

I will be the first to go on a complete rant about how bloated and overpaid "SOME" of the people in NJ government are paid. But, I have always said, long before I would even comment about the salaries of local officials the first thing NJ needs to care about are the patronage mills that states like NJ and NY have - the Public Authorities. This is where you find the middle management with a job that they don't even need to show up for and pull down 100K a year. These are the jobs you get by kissing the right butt at the right time. And once you are in, you are in for life. Once NJ takes care of that problem, the rest can be looked at. Per Hellwig's pay, considering any police/safety position in Plainfield: Underpaid. I have a high regard for cops, the moral standard they are held to as well as the fact the garbage ( of the human variety ) they have to deal with everyday. Is rare I will critique what a police officer makes since you couldn't pay me enough to do it. And I do agree that the salaries should be public simply because they are public employees, although on a personal level I can say it would give me heartburn to have my salary out there if I made serious bucks.

Anonymous said...

7 of 10 aides for Cory Boooker make over 100K a year...

Anonymous said...

I would gladly pay it if we could get Cory Booker!