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Morning Poll: Should Arlington Raise Employee Salaries?

by ARLnow.com April 7, 2011 at 9:04 am 2,663 134 Comments

A new analysis of county employee compensation, prepared by county staff, says that Arlington employees earn less than their counterparts in Alexandria and Fairfax County.

The Washington Examiner reports that veteran employees often earn thousands of dollars less than employees in Alexandria and Fairfax, the county’s two biggest competitors in terms of hiring. Despite the fact that Arlington often hires employees at higher starting salaries, the staff analysis recommends raising county employee salary ceilings in Arlington to compete for the best workers.

What do you think?


  • LyonSteve

    How about a “No, they earn enough already?”

    • mehoo

      What’s “enough” Steve? How do you measure it? The only measurement we have in the story is a comparison to other nearby jurisdictions in Virginia, and we’re not “enough” by that standard. Just throwing out the word “enough” isn’t enough.

    • BoredHouseWife

      pit the populace against each other so it is easier to pass draconian laws and undo all worker’s rights.

  • LyonSteve

    And conflict of interest? “prepared by county staff”

    • mehoo

      Who else should prepare it, Steve?

      You’re throwing out some bombs today.

      • John Fontain

        Maybe someone other than the party with a vested interest in receiving more compensation.

        • mehoo

          Such as?

          Feel free to do your own analysis and see if this one is accurate. Maybe a journalist will do it.

      • Jason S.

        An independent auditor is a good starting point.

      • LyonSteve

        I’m not throwing out bombs, just pointing out that the options for the poll may leave some without a viable option including myself. Also pointing out that there is/could be a conflict when a group conducts a study on their own level of pay.

        I’m not playing either side or saying I agree or disagree with the county employees.

        • mehoo

          I was referring to the “their paid enough” comment. That was certainly an option on the poll. Yet it wasn’t supported at all. What’s enough, and how do we know they’re paid enough?

          • LyonSteve

            That is not an option. Paid “too much” is not the same as “enough.”

          • mehoo

            And you still continue to throw those terms out without any definition or data whatsoever. Anybody can just say “too much.” For instance, you talk too much.

  • Westover

    Some positions in the county earn the right amount, some earn too little, a few earn too much. An across the board raise would be the wrong thing to do.

    • Aaron

      That would be discrimination!

      • Westover

        Sad when some would say that common sense and the use of ones intelligence is discriminatory.

        • mehoo

          It’s not.

  • Ben

    Government salaries should only be at the market rate if they mothball the pensions and other retirement benefits they receive that “market jobs” don’t have…..

    • Arl2

      +1

    • KalashniKEV

      I thought the #1 reason to get a Government job was “mah ben-uh-fits?”

      You want to mothball them?

      Let’s raise the salaries and increase social welfare programs- that way we accelerate the process of going-out-of-business… as Mehoo said, 0bie Juan wants it to burn.

      • Thes

        The #1 reason to get a government job is that you show up to work each day for a reason other than to make profits for someone else.

        • 4Arl

          Which is why seeing the profits go to the chosen ones in management, while watching them cut back programs and services for the public good, should be most bothersome to those actually interested in public service, but also trouble those that aren’t. They seem to be neither interested in providing broad access for the public good nor keeping the amount of taxes paid low.
          Look at the decisions to raise fees on things like art classes- they are now aiming to “fully recover direct costs” in some “enterprise fund” programs. So let’s see, management costs are taxpayer supported, yet they stiff the temporary staff and eliminate the public benefit that comes from broadening participation and access to all residents.

    • jj

      I pay for my pension in Arlington–7.5% of every paycheck goes towards retirement.

      • Southeast Jerome

        thats nice, I put 10% of my paycheck to my 401K. But your pension doesnt flucuate with financial markets but my 401K does.

        your argument is finished.

        • South Arlington

          I’m sure you were complaining about that during the go-go 90’s and early 2000’s.

        • AllenB

          Your 401K doesn’t have to fluctuate with the financial markets. That’s your choice what you invest it in. It’s all in the risk/reward model.

          Now YOUR argument is finished.

          • Southeast Jerome

            Allen – thats incorrect. Due to the ERISA laws, you cant “trade” your 401K. Yes you can change your investment choices but they dont take effect immediately. Also, your choices are limited to the selections provided by your company.

            So if a fund loses 10% in one day, which can easily happen, I cant just go in and trade out of that fund during the day to limit my loss to only 5%. If that were the case then yes your argument might not be finished, but it is.

            And, yes during the go-go years I might have enjoyed it, had I been working and investing then, rather then spending my teenage years with your daughter.

          • South Arlington

            Then don’t blame others because you failed to put your 401K contributions into lower risk funds. Take personal responsibility.

          • Southeast Jerome

            No – again you are not seeing the full picture here. 401K’s do not allow employees the flexibility needed or required in today’s markets to make consistent returns unless its flat out luck. Clearly, you are not working in finance.

          • South Arlington

            Yes, and back to your original point of jealousy that the County workers get a pension that doesn’t fluctuate with the market, you have the full power to put your 401K contributions into a treasury fund or other low risk funds. Of course, you wouldn’t because during good times (which are usually longer cycles than the bad times) you would be selling your returns short, which in most cases the pensioners can’t do. You take the good with the bad. Regardless of whether you can move funds day to day, you can still choose your funds. You could also move your money into a self-directed IRA and handle it however you want.

            But then again, I’m not working for CEB making cold calls and considering myself “working in finance”, so what do I know.

          • Southeast Jerome

            yeah obviously, because only a fool would invest in Treasuries which are yielding next to nothing and once the Fed hikes your “safe” Treasuries will get absolutely crushed. Go ahead and buy 10yr bonds at 3.50%, nice investment there.

            And yes, go ahead and try to think you know more than me about finance, thats a sure fire way to get embarassed. And i’m not jealous of pensions, they are just draconion. Its not 1950, public sector will eventually go the route of private sector, they always do.

            Ad I know about IRA’s. There are benefits you get with 401K’s (employer contributions) that you dont get with an IRA so its not as simple as just switching your money into your own fund dude.

          • South Arlington

            Actually Slugger, since you’re the one that cited ERISA, you should be well aware since you “work in finance” (I’ll still contend that working at a 10th rate firm like CEB or Cambridge Associates isn’t working in finance) that you can, as specifically authorized by ERISA, take employee contributions to your 401K and then roll them over into an IRA, or specifically, as I stated, a self-directed IRA that can then be invested in pretty much any investment other than insurance contracts and collectible stuff. At that point, you can manage your pre-tax investments any way you’d like, including day trading, short term investing, real estate, or whatever your mind can think of.

            Obviously I wouldn’t invest in treasury funds, but stating that pension funds don’t fluctuate with the market as if that’s a plus is buffoonish. Most of the time, that’s a huge negative. At the same time, I’ve got 20% going to treasury and 80% going to either small cap or international funds, so I’m somewhat in favor of hedging my bets (and I also take personal responsibility for my investment choice).

          • AllenB

            You are completely missing the point. I’m not saying to trade out of funds with a few hours notice. But you picked the funds you were in, and sorry, but all employers are required to provide a range of choices for you to pick from for your 401K, including funds that have no to minimal risk, ie money markets. You could have put your money in those. You chose to go for the higher risk/higher return funds. Many do that, and early in your career that is probably the best way to go. But there is risk in that and you have to accept the risk.

          • JohnG

            Yes, you can trade your 401k. I have 100% of my 401k in my company stock and trade it weekly.

        • jj

          I also put another 5% into a 457 plan and a 401A plan that does fluctuate with the market. Don’t slam pensions because you chose a different line of work. I chose public service that includes a pension. I also chose to work 24 hr shifts to include weekends and holidays. I don’t complain about that because it is what I chose to do. Don’t complain about your 401K because that’s the retirement plan associated with your job choice. Some areas of the county such as Wisconsin had pension plans fully funded by the tax payers. Here in VA and Arlington that is not the case.

        • mehoo

          Aren’t pension funds invested too?

          • LyonSteve

            They are, but loses are typically guaranteed by the government.

          • mehoo

            Good point. Maybe you should get a union to negotiate the creation of a pension instead of a 401k.

  • NArl

    If county employee’s make too much then why can’t they live in the county they work for? Just a question

    • Hikin’ the Pike

      +1*10^100

    • NotYou

      …heck they can barly live in the Counties next door…

  • brendan

    This question is a little too broad…

    For the most part, i agree with the notion that we should keep salaries competitive and that includes small raises over time.

    However, Donnellan gets paid more than the Speaker of the House, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, White House CoS and 6x the county’s per capita income level.

  • charlie

    Most County employees earn good salaries and while they don’t get bonuses similar to private sector that do have a much great level of job security.

    As for those who “can’t” live in Arlington, I would argue that many CHOOSE to not live in the County. You can’t have everything — 3-car garage, 5 BR, 2 acres and still live in Arlington. Right now there are 264 properties for sale under $500,000 — some below $250,000. Choices people choices.

    • 264 properties for sale under $500K, but how many million people living in Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun who commute in who currently live in a home under $500K? Seems to me that 264 properties doesn’t make it a “choice” for the vast majority of the people.

    • BallstonNOTBoston

      Most of those 264 properties under 500k are 1 bedroom condos, not really ideal for a family living in the County.

      • charlie

        28 — or just around 10% are single family homes. that does NOT include townhouses (Fairlington, Park Fairfax, etc).

        as for families: Then it should say, “employees who have chosen to have families can’t live in Arlington.”

        Which is interesting because of the roughly 2-3 dozen county staff that I know, who also have families, all of them live in Arlington or Falls Church.

        • Westover

          Can’t have a new Porsche in the gargage next to a fully optioned Tahoe for the wife, but it is possible to live comfortably in Arlington in a SFH at below $100K a year. Need to brew your own Starbucks too.

          • mehoo

            $100k is the median household income in Arlington, so at least half of us live here for less, perhaps not all comfortably. Many of them probably bought their homes a long long time ago though.

          • brendan

            eh. it might be possible but very difficult. really need to have a household income of 150k or so to be looking at SFH’s (unless you have 20% of the downpayment already saved and no kids or student loans). 100k/yr = 65k after taxes, tolls & tr-lls.

            400k mortgage w/ 10% down w/ that amount of income and you’re going to be pretty close to “house poor.” fat chance if you have kids.

          • Westover

            Yes, it is tough to do when you are 22-28 years old if you also want to have kids that young, but a 30_something it is not too hard if yu don’t fell that you have to keep up with the Joneses in everything else.

    • Southeast Jerome

      what? I dont get this. You mean I cant have a mansion and 3 cars on a government salary? next thing you are going to do is tell me that I have to work hard, get an education and be a more effective employee to get a raise. what kind of world is this anyway. This is probably all the counties fault, oh and its also the democrats fault too because of the debt our government has

      • KalashniKEV

        They’ve got education nailed- they hold their jobs for them while they’re gone, and then when they get back they usually get a promotion!!! A lot of times they get free money just for going! Even while they’re not doing their jobs!

        • South Arlington

          I’ve only heard of that today happening at CIA – not at other Federal agencies that actually have some kind of budget oversight.

    • countyemployee

      i disagree, many of us have to rent an one bedroom apt in a different county to save some money so that later on we can afford our own house. And, just FYI, i am not happy with my pay here, and if will leave the County soon if their pay raise plan doesn’t meet my expectation. by the way, I perform well in my position and I consider it is hard for the county to find someone like me easily.

  • HR folks need to do their jobs and continuously monitor the market conditions for each position they are responsible for in their organization. If the market dictates you are competitive, then no adjustment is necessary. If the market conditions move and a position requires a 7% increase even in a time when average salries are flat, give the increase or risk losing qualified people. It’s not rocket science, but I see HR departments screw up sustainable staffing practices all the time. When you hire, pay them what they are worth. Adjust annually to stay competetive on a position basis, not an overall county (or corporation) basis.

  • Puggy

    Let the free market determine their worth.

    • mehoo

      Um, that’s what they’re trying to do. If they’re getting paid less than comparable employees in other jurisdictions, maybe their market value is higher than what they’re paid.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    Yes, for public safety employees like police, fire fighters, etc.

    • Westover

      Teachers too, I know of a few jumping over to Fairfax in the new school year for better pay, and a couple that turned down our schools for jobs in Fairfax and Montgomery County for the same reason.

  • Burger

    So, I quite curious to wonder about those that voted for Fairfax to lower salaries? Should we start a Facebook page or something to ask Fairfax county to do that? Or did most of those voters not drink their coffee this morning and understand how…umm…silly that sounds.

    • Southeast Jerome

      yeah – I think that answer choice was just getting hits from those that didnt agree with any of the other answers.

    • KalashniKEV

      CUT THEM ALL!!!!!1!

      • mehoo

        I think we should definitely cut all the bloated, pork-laden government contracts.

  • John Fontain

    The staff’s justification for seeking higher wages is that they are needed to compete for the best workers. To evaluate whether this is true, the most important questions that need to be answered are:

    1. Is Arlington County currently seeing a talent drain to surrounding counties?

    2. If so, is Arlington County unable to keep positions staffed because of lack of applications for jobs from those seeking employment?

    I suspect that neither of these is true.

    Because the county’s fiduciary responsibility is to its taxpayers, it should seek to provide functions/services needed by taxpayers at the best cost available. The county’s fiduciary responsibility is not to ensure that its employees are receiving great compensation packages.

    • Well, I’m sure this highly depends upon the position…. but, I personally know someone who looked to make a job (and possibly relocation) move from a government job in Fairfax County to one in Arlington County. Arlington was interested, but the move did not happen. I was told Arlington did not come close to meeting his current salary or benefits AND it cost more to live in Arlington for a smaller residence. So, he lives and works in Fairfax still.

      • FedUp

        +10 It’s hard to attract competent people with the salaries that Arlington offers. So I guess we shouldn’t complain about the low quality of service we receive from some departments. You get what you pay for…

  • roquer

    Yes, but only for cops,firefighters and garbage collectors. They’re the ones who stand to lose the most

    • Westover

      The majority of county garbage collection is done by contractors, could probably move it all to contractors and save a ton.

      • brendan

        just like the federal government, right?

        • Westover

          Much ahs been moved to Contractors, but no, I am talking about a specific job. The county still has some roles in waste management that stays with the county and should stay this way. But residential regular collections can be totally contracted out.

  • Wayne Kubicki

    For some additional information & prespectives on all of this, interested folks should read pages 9-10 of the Civic Federation’s committee report on the budget, along with the two County links the report references. The Civic Federation report can be found at http://civfed.org/reandschools2011.pdf

    • John Fontain

      Thanks for the link Wayne.

    • 2many_TalkingHeads

      Residents are quick to complain (mother nature at work I guess) but few get involved in civic associations, attend board meetings. The good deeds never get recognized (by residents) but one foul move and they attack you like roadkill. There are many suggestions here, some good, but a better picture can be had if people actually participate and get a better understanding on how County arrives at decisions it makes.

      Just someone from the outside looking in.

      • If you don’t have enough frustration in your life, attend a Board meeting. You’ll get your dose and then some.

    • 4Arl

      Thanks also for the link- can you share some insight on why you proposed only a hike in the pension contributions from general employees, and not from uniformed, and especially, not from the county itself? After all, the county decides on the changes to the pension plan.

  • GetReal

    IMO, we should pay our County employees 5-10% (on average) above the neighboring counties and recruit/keep the most talanted employees. However, I would treat these employees like the private sector and they would be expected to outperform their peers or hit the road. I’d do the same for teachers but i think their pay should be 10-20% above FFX/Alex.

    • John Fontain

      Do you mean the peers within their office or their peers in other jurisdictions. If the former, a requirement to outperform your peers implies 50% turnover each year. This is not realistic and is quite costly. If the latter, how would you evaluate whether they outperform their peers? For example, how would you do this for someone in the zoning office as compared to the zoning office in Fairfax?

      • GetReal

        No, not peers in the office, other jurisdictions.

      • GetReal

        Measuring performance would be fairly easy. I’m not going to get into it here but it is something that can easily be done.

        • John Fontain

          So easy it can’t be easily explained?

          • mehoo

            I could explain why, but I’m not going to get into it here.

  • civil servant

    What has happened over time is that the County has failed to give any COLAs or CPI adjustments – that has totally tanked the salaries of County employees. In fact,the Schools have received such adjustments over the years because inflation and cost of living adjustments actually make the salaries relevant. Also, over time, the County has had trouble getting qualified employees to come to the County – the benefits are not luring anyone, folks – so they were having to offer mid-range salaries which caused people to “cap out” very early in their careers. Health costs and employee contributions have escalated while there are not cost of living adjustments and the “step increases” are paultry. Of course some are paid more and others too little, but that’s where some real analysis should be done case by case.

    • What you descibe is the classic case of the lack of sustainable staff planning. They think they are saving money, but in the long run it is costing them so much more.

    • Southeast Jerome

      the private sector has not been getting raises either and their retirements are not defined benefit as the county has with its pension.

      the private sector has also had to shoulder burdensome health care cost increases as well, so that goes both ways in my opinion.

      I dont think its a govt vs private sector argument, the fact is wage growth in this country across the board has not increased in the last 10 years.

      I also will point out that George Bush started in office in 2000. Tea anyone?

      • Ah, let’s not go there. It was Bill Clinton after all who supported laxed lending practices and started inflating the housing bubble which, upon it’s burst, brought financial turmoil to the country. Blame one, blame all. They are all to blame including the current one. It is what it is because of what has happened and not just from one political party.

        • mehoo

          Yes, let’s forget that, because it’s a myth:

          http://www.ourfuture.org/makingsense/factsheet/community-reinvestment-act

          • Ha! It would seem the NY Times source trumps the liberal rag you cited mehoo as far as legitimacy goes! Thanks Junkie!

          • mehoo

            So the NYT is never wrong? 😆

            Anyway, this article doesn’t contradict anything I said or anything in the link I posted.

          • Well, I have to say I don’t trust any journalist at this point. Reporting the news is not really that any more. It is laden with opinion and bias regardless of the source. Even the most reputable of news agencies sweeten or glamorize stories to get ratings. Take it all with a grain of salt.

            I do think, regardless of what you believe, my origional point stands. There is so much more at play on this issue that should make you realize you can’t blame Bush, the Republicans, Clinton, the Democrats, the banks, or any other entity as the sole reason. They all are to blame because it took time for this bubble to inflate and they all played into it one way or another.

  • Lou

    Before they open the whole equitable pay can of worms, I would like to see them look seriously at all of the full time positions that have been vacant for more than 9 months and defund them if they are truly not vital positions.

  • County employee

    Mr. Fontain,

    The scenarios you have described are exactly what’s happening with many of the prominent and larger departments within the county (police,fire,DHS,DES). When police and fire hire large recruit classes, the turnover is huge. The county spends hundreds of thousands on salaries and benefits so that in a year or two, on average half of the police/firemen hired leave for fed jobs,DC,Fairfax,or agencies in MD that are unionized and higher paying. Same goes for DHS and admin assistants…very very high turnover. High turnover = more money spent by Arlington on hiring,etc.
    The county will never admit to this nor will they do any viable study because if they did it will expose the truth. But if you know or are friends with any average county employee (no not your neighbor who happens to be a the chief of police or county board member) they will tell you the same.
    It’s a running joke in many circles among county employees that you don’t get a county ID card until you hit your 5 year mark.

    • John Fontain

      County employee,

      Thanks for the insights. Do you have any idea why all these folks are taking jobs with Arlington to begin with if the pay and benefits are so much better everywhere else?

      • Easy answer. In the other counties, people don’t leave the jobs as easily because of compensation. And, when one does open it gets filled quickly because of multiple qualified candidates. So, if you need a job and Arlington is the only entity in the area with a vacancy in what you do, I guess Arlington it is!

        • John Fontain

          Sorry, but that does not answer the question.

          • If it doesn’t answer it for you, please provide your answer for all.

          • John Fontain

            I don’t have the answer. That is why I asked ‘county employee.’ But if you read my question again and read your response, you’ll see that your response doesn’t answer my question and, in fact, assumes a completely different fact pattern than that suggested by ‘county employee’ (related to the availability of local higher paying positions).

          • No, not really. When they are looking for a job in the area one is not available in the higher paying county for reasons I cited. So, they take one with Arlington. Then, they continue looking for a better compensated job while getting trained by Arlington and getting valuable experience. Then, they jump ship when a position does open and are more qualified thanks to Arlington training and funding. I believe “county employee” and I are on the same page.

  • 4Arl

    One important factor that HR omits is whether employees leave not due to pay, but because of bad management. That could cost a lot in additional salary to compensate. And if managers hire new staff near top of scale, what does that say to others who patiently serve and earn one step at a time, sometimes not even that or COLA? Meanwhile management pay can be raised later to “remain competitive” and have a magnified impact due to pension calculations. A complete HR compensation analysis including equity of healthcare and pension benefits should be among the first tasks for an independent IG. This would require that the IG report directly to the board and not to the county manager or HR. Which is why management would surely fear this and never recommend it.

  • BoredHouseWife

    Once the fed worker’s benefits and pay get slashed they will come after private sector jobs. They will have no reason to be competitive.

    • Burger

      Spoken like someone that doesn’t know what she is talking about.

      Most of the high end federal government jobs staffed by lawyers, MBA’s and PHD’s are unpaid relative to what most could get in the private market. Some stay for job security, some stay (like my wife) for the ability to telecommute and keep regular hours and some because they are nearing retirement and see no need to move.

      Everyone wants a black or white answer but there is none.

  • NOVApologist

    Comparing salaries alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Total compensation is a factor of both salary and benefits. Arlington County offers housing grants, flexible work weeks, discounted childcare, tuition reimbursement, matching retirement contributions, etc… One would need to compare these to those offered by neighboring counties to get the full story.

    • The benefits in Fairfax and Prince William are better. I can’t speak for Loudoun because I don’t have any clients there.

    • mehoo

      Nah, let’s just wildly assume that their benefits are infinitely better than the private sector, or other jurisdictions. That’s easier.

      • KalashniKEV

        Well they are infinitely better than the private sector… but that’s just the game, right? If the wages were “comparable” to private industry, AND you get a monster pension at 20, AND you get mad benuhfits, AND no matter how greedy you get the “company” never goes out of business, then why wouldn’t we all work for the government, even if the work was somewhat difficult?

        • Westover

          Who gets a monster pension at 20 years? I know many corporations that have given far better benefits than the government over the years, there are a lot that still do. It is what you do if you want to attract and retain good people.

        • mehoo

          No, they aren’t all better than the private sector, Kev. Some are better, some aren’t.

        • NotYou

          First the study actually showed that the “salaries” are lower than the counterparts in other jurisdictions… secondly… the general county employee has to work 30 years to get full benefits, not 20… thirdly salaries are lower than the private sector but the pension plans do help make up the difference. So if you want to cut out the pension plan you need to drastically increase the salaries to make up the difference.

        • South Arlington

          I think this is funny since Kev left the Government for the private sector. I’m sure he left for a job that had LESS compensation than he received from the Government. In fact, I’m sure all of the ex-Feds working for contractors now left because the contractor offered them less money and benefits than they received before. That makes perfect economic sense.

          I think the 20 year pension you’re talking about is for military personnel that already receive the cushiest of cushy benefits, many of which Kev is undoubtedly taking advantage of (courtesy of the taxpayers).

          • KalashniKEV

            1) More pay, less benefits on the private side. As I said, that’s just the game… I’m surprised that so many don’t understand it, esp here.
            2) Mo money, mo problems.
            1) I don’t gets no benufits or any kind of gubbamint cheese. 🙂

          • KalashniKEV

            4) Numbering FAIL!!!1!

          • mehoo

            No, it’s more complicated than that. But the fact remains that you chose to leave for the private sector, so overall it must have been a better deal for you for whatever reason.

            As for government cheese, the streets are filled right now with people who had cushy jobs and nice houses and were absolutely certain they’d never ever lose it all.

  • Max

    yes, let’s continue to give tax breaks to the top 1% and force the greedy middle school janitor to shut his mouth and live paycheck to paycheck. Mother effer is probably running a drug ring anyway.

    • John Fontain

      Max, is the janitor an indentured servant? Your use of the word ‘force’ implies that the janitor cannot take it upon himself to better his personal finances through employment elsewhere (assuming, as you seem to suggest, that his work is worth more than his pay) or other means (education, training, 2nd job, etc., etc.)

      • Max

        You’re right. I bet if they work at it for a few days they could become the CEO of Viacom (who probably pays less taxes than most janitors).

        • John Fontain

          When all else fails, whip out the straw man.

          • brendan

            trivial pt. but overt sarcasm is different from creating a straw man argument…

            and John, I agree no one is ‘forced’ to do anything but… depending on one’s lot in life, options can be limited. I wish the world was as open as your 3rd grade teacher suggested when she asked you to draw what you want to be when you grow up, but it’s not. I’m sure there’s a significant percent of janitors focused on achieving more and even more that could if they tried… but it’s inaccurate to say that as a group a certain profession could be doing more and picking up a second job at the level still doesn’t help you ‘get ahead’ around here.

            Also, the point of what max is saying is about income inequality and without a doubt that has increased over the last 30 years thus decreasing opportunity for the lower class. You can blame the “47% of American’s who don’t pay taxes” if you want, but i guarantee you a majority of them wish, and are working hard, to be in a tax bracket that pays 20-35%.

          • John Fontain

            Is the county’s purpose to provide ‘income equality’ or to provide services to taxpayers at the lowest cost?

          • brendan

            i think county residents expect to treat the people they hire w/ a certain amount of dignity.

            we could be doing everything for a lot less if we were cutthroat about it. could we find someone that’s willing to clean up puke, discarded milk cartons and ‘accidents’ for $5/hr and no benefits… probably. Is it the right thing to do? niner.

  • Nick

    From what I have seen the Arlington County employees
    Are some of the hardest working civil services
    Employees there are !

  • TaylorK

    This poll needs another choice. ‘No, salaries are justified but times are tough.’

  • DT

    They need to fix the atrocious retirement for the police before they worry about anything else.

  • SD

    Please … the fox is in the chicken coop …. “prepared by county staff”. Barbara and the “arlington way” needs to go!

    • takenforgranted

      It always amazes me that people expect their government to have the very best, most highly skilled people working as hard and fast as possible, but want to pay them as little as they can. You get what you pay for, folks. If you don’t want to pay us a competitive salary to deliver the best services in government, then we’ll go somewhere else you can have the ones no one else will hire. Is that the Arlington you want to live in?

  • RHD

    Who says the surrounding areas can be compared? Alexandria and Fairfax are very different places that Arlington.

    • Really? “Very” different? We’re talking DC area here, not comparing NYC to Nebraska. By very, do you mean suburban to urban?

  • Trimmed bush

    I went to the courthouse to complain about a late charge I received in the mail regarding a utility bill, which was received timely. I had to interrupt the only clerk in the office who was on a personal phone call.
    I suggest that the salaries stay the same and county phones be used for business calls only. I wonder if Alexandria and Fairfax have the same type of employees.

  • an employee

    Unfortunately, I know all too well that pay is way too low for many minority or lower grade employees where as many of the executive employees make way more than they would anywhere else because they knew somebody to get where they are. The quality of work doesn’t matter. What matters is who you know and unfortunately those who know someone important are the employees who are in the leadership clique. I hate to bring race into the equation but the pay proves this especially when compared to others in the same position. Not that it matters but I am white. I decided to request this info as it is public information. Anyone is entitled to see this info.

    • SD

      Ah there is that “arlington way” again … has nothing to do with competency but only who you know … Barbara and her clique need to go! The business community had hoped that with Michael Brown’s selection as County Manager that finally there was hope. But alas the Arlington Way knew it would be there end so they made sure that Brown was sent packing!

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