PUBLIC PAYROLL BY THE NUMBERS

  • Number of workers in the Times Herald-Record’s database: about 39,400

  • Number who work in education: 20,013

  • Total local payroll in 2007: About $1.6 billion

  • Percentage of public employees in the workforce: About 20 percent of a total of 203,000 workers in the region, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Note: Education positions includes K-12, college-level and other instructor-related roles in Ulster, Sullivan and Orange counties in 2007. Excludes figures from Saugerties and Onteora school districts.

SUMMARY RESULTS:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why are you publishing these salaries?
Details about the salaries of public employees has long been available to the public. And by public, we mean concerned citizens, taxpayers, voters and advocates of various causes - not just the media. Getting that information, though, has largely been a tedious, piecemeal process that required citizens to go from one public agency to another to request public payrolls.
With this searchable database, the Times Herald-Record has amassed the region’s single-largest collection of public salaries, numbering roughly 39,400 names, titles and salaries. The database includes the 2007 salaries of employees of cities, towns, villages, counties, school districts and various state agencies in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties.
At a time when states and localities are facing increasing financial pressures, we believe this information is of public interest. This database will give taxpayers a chance to see how well (or poorly) different levels of government pay their employees. By providing this information, you can make informed comparisons of salaries by localities and positions.
This is part of a broader effort by the Times Herald-Record to put public information in the hands of the public. In the past year, we have spearheaded efforts to allow readers to see for themselves how restaurants fared in health inspections, who contributed to the campaign coffers of Orange County Executive Edward Diana and the safety records of our region’s dams and bridges. For more on those databases, go to ourData Center.

Isn’t the online posting of public salaries an invasion of personal privacy?
No. We are providing information that has been in the public domain for years. One of the few documents the public records law known as the Freedom of Information Law requires a public agency to create and maintain is a list of every officer or employee by name, title, salary and public office address. So built into the drafting of the law was the intent to have this information in the public arena.
Included in the recordonline.com’s database are the names of public employees, their titles or positions, their salary or hourly wage and the name of the agency they work for.
Not included are details that would be invasive, like Social Security numbers, home addresses, race, ethnicity and whether an employee is having their wages garnished to pay child support, etc. Such information, by law, is exempt from public disclosure.

Aren’t you inviting identity theft?
The information provided online is already readily available to anyone who seeks it. A simple search on the Internet, telephone directory or other public records would yield far more identifying details about public workers than what we’ve posted.

If you’re all about transparency, why don’t you publish the salaries of workers at the Times Herald-Record?
Tax dollars, that is, money you pay to the government, do not pay the salaries of Times Herald-Record employees.

Couldn’t you just list the titles and salaries without the respective names?
We could, but that would undermine the purpose of this project: Putting public information in the public’s hands. Eliminating the names would mean providing only two-thirds of the important information. Fundamentally, listing the names allows taxpayers to know who their public servants specifically are and what they are earning. Further, other news organizations have discovered that such databases have a way of shining a light on nepotism and favoritism in the ranks of taxpayer-financed jobs.

Where did you get these salaries from?
On April 1, 2007, the Record sent more than 140 Freedom of Information requests to public agencies asking for their public payrolls.

Which workers are included?
Employees of cities, counties, towns, villages, BOCES, community colleges and school districts in Ulster, Sullivan and Orange counties, plus state agencies with a significant presence in those counties, such as the New York State Police and the state Department of Correctional Services.

Are there any public agencies missing?
Yes. They include: The Village of Kiryas Joel; the Kiryas Joel Union Free School District; the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; the federal prison at Otisville; the state Office of Court Administration and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. These agencies either denied or ignored our public records requests or provided incomplete data. In our initial records requests, we overlooked the Saugerties and Onteora school districts. We are working on getting those records.
Separately, the New York State Thruway Authority provided a list of all its workers statewide, but since we could not parse the list of 4,000 to those working in our region, we chose not to include them in the data set.

Why do you include the lowest-paid employees, like hourly workers earning minimum wage? Shouldn’t they be excluded?
We erred on the side of completeness. Without knowing who are among the lowest-paid workers, readers would be unable to judge the fairness or inequity of compensation of public jobs.

So what took so long? Why are you only posting this now?
While many agencies were quick to respond to our requests, a good number were either slow or unresponsive. While we requested the data to be provided in an electronic format, many provided paper records that required manual data entry. Once the master list was compiled, there was still a fair amount of debugging the data for errors.

Do these figures reflect overtime pay? How about benefits?
No and no. These figures reflect an employee’s base salary provided to us by their public employer at the time of our requests in April 2007.

I have a complaint or additional question about the data. Who should I contact?
You can send an email tosalary@th-record.com

HOW TO USE THIS SEARCH

Name search
Enter a full name, last name or partial name in this field. Results will return any names from our database that match or have a partial match. For instance, “Smith” will return names like “Goldsmith.”

Title search
Under the keyword search, you can enter a title that you think might match one in our database. For instance, typing in “mechanic” will bring back results that include “general mechanic” and “motor equipment mechanic.” Or in the “Type” field, you can choose from a predetermined list of job titles to find the results you want.

Job category search
You can choose one of the levels of government and then hit search. So if you choose “city,” you get a listing of all employees working for the cities of Middletown, Newburgh, Port Jervis and Kingston. Or you could choose the level of government and then choose from the job categories. So if you chose “city” and then “public safety,” you would generate a list of all employees of the cities who work in public safety, such as police officers and firefighters.

Payscale search
The top pulldown menu gives you the option of finding all employees who earn in a certain pay range. For instance, you find listings for all hourly employees or for employees who earn between $80,000 and $100,000. If you want to narrow the search to a particular county, choose from one of the counties in the pulldown menu in the box below.

Employer search
Select from a list of all the employers included in the database. Results will only return records with employees from that employer.

Town and school district comparison search
Use this search to compare two local municipalities or school districts. Results will show side-by-side profiles, including budget, population and square mileage. The profiles also offer a breakdown of salaries by category and the percentage that each category gets of the overall salary pie.

ABOUT THIS DATA - Click here to search the database

The Times Herald-Record’s analysis is based on a database of 39,400 public employee salaries from 2007 compiled with information obtained through the state’s Freedom of Information Law. Here’s what you need to know about the limitations of the analysis:
  • The data includes public employees of 132 cities, towns and villages, BOCES, school districts and universities and state and county agencies that serve Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties. We asked each public agency for the same information: a list of employees by name, job title and salary. Whenever possible, we labeled an employee’s gender to conduct an analysis of pay based on that attribute. We could not identify the gender of about 2,700 workers.

  • Missing from the public salaries analysis are figures from the Village of Kiryas Joel, the Kiryas Joel Union Free School District, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the federal prison at Otisville, the state Office of Court Administration and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Saugerties and Onteora school districts. These agencies either denied or ignored our public records requests or provided incomplete data. In the cases of the Saugerties and Onteora school districts, we overlooked them in our records requests.
    Separately, the New York State Thruway Authority provided a list of all its workers statewide, but since we could not parse the list of 4,000 to those working in the Hudson Valley, we chose not to include them in the dataset.

  • One of the greatest difficulties in analyzing the data was determining which employees worked full time in 2007. Numerous public agencies provided salary data in hourly figures, which cannot be annualized because many public employees work part time and full-time employees often do not work 40-hour weeks. We were able to determine annual salaries for 33,749 workers. Hourly workers are not included in our analysis of average and median salaries or in comparisons by gender or title.

  • In many cases, employees have salaries that make it clear they are part-time workers. These workers were not included in our analysis. We included only workers who earned at least $15,001, which is in line with the $14,664 a minimum-wage worker would earn in New York. We raised the threshold because nearly every person in the database earning $15,000 or less is a part-time worker.

  • For our analysis of teacher salaries, we looked at the pay of 8,252 K-12 teachers, including about 200 who earn less than $40,000 a year, which means they are likely part-time instructors. For that reason, our analysis may slightly understate teacher pay in the region.

  • We relied on average salaries for teachers rather than the median because in a given district every teacher starts at roughly the same pay. Also, because teacher pay is based largely on seniority, the average figures are equally telling in regard to the relative experience level in a district. In a few districts, the median salary is higher than the average salary.

  • County salary data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics is included for context but cannot be used to make direct comparisons because the data includes all workers, full- and part-time. It includes, for example, a teenager working at the seasonal ice cream stand.

  • The names, titles and salaries reflect the information provided by the public employers. The abbreviations of titles and spellings of names were left unedited.