A reporter submits a request for information from the government under the Colorado Open Records Act, hoping that information will lead to juicy, exclusive story. But instead of e-mailing the dirt to the requesting reporter, the government's public-relations person responds by sending out a press release to every media outlet in town.
It's happened to us. Lately, however, it's been happening a lot to the Gazette. The daily had a hot story a couple years ago when it released all city salaries during the height of the recession and a brutal city budget season. Apparently, it thought that story was worth revisiting and asked for the updated information.
We received all that information in the form of a press release listed below, along with some commentary from the city communications office. Same goes for the Gazette's request for the city's top earners' expense reports. The communications office said the information was just too widely interesting to reveal only to the Gazette.
And sure, there's a part of me that snickers a little at all of this. But I've been on the other side of this situation one too many times not to cringe a little, too.
City releases employee salaries by name
In an effort to provide greater transparency for its citizens, the City of Colorado Springs has released City employee salaries by employee name. The release is in response to a media open records request for the information.
The City has traditionally posted its salary schedule on its Web site which provides salary ranges for each position in the City. The City decided to post exact salaries by name so interested citizens could review the raw data and make their own conclusions — without third party translation. The list can be found at www.springsgov.com.
The list provided includes all regular & special employees including their last name, first name, job title and annualized salary. This list does not include Colorado Springs Utilities employees, Memorial Health System employees, elected officials, hourly temp/seasonal employees, outside agency temps or contractors.
Since the City does not offer bonuses or performance-based incentives, the list does not include that information.
The file shows the average annualized salary for City employees to be $61,984 and the median annualized salary to be $66,369 for a workforce of 2,116 employees. Of the 2,116 employees, 946 are general fund employees who are not sworn fire fighters or police officers (1,010 employees). The remaining 160 employees work in enterprise operations, such as the Colorado Springs Airport, golf courses, cemeteries and Pikes Peak Highway.
City releases expense reports for Mayor and managers
In an effort to provide greater transparency for its citizens, the City of Colorado Springs has released expense and mileage reports for Mayor Steve Bach and 29 managers and judges since the Mayor took office in June 2011. City policy allows for employees to be reimbursed for approved expenses in the conduct of City business. The release is in response to a media open records request.
Often managers absorb the costs of day to day business expenses without reimbursement. Mayor Bach has about $6000 in unreimbursed expenses so far for which he will not seek reimbursement.
In our continuing effort for transparency, we are sending the resulting information to area media. Whenever open records requests produce information with broad public interest, the City reserves the right to post the information on its Web site and to disseminate the information to area media outlets and to interested citizens through other channels.
Specifically, this request focused on the expenses turned in by Mayor Bach and the following positions (whether interim or permanent): City Clerk, City Attorney, Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Chief of Economic Vitality and Innovation, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Municipal Judges (there are 12), Chief Financial Officer, Human Resources Director, Chief Communications Officer, Aviation Director, Cemetery Manager/Operations Supervisor, Parking Manager, Information Technology (Chief Information Officer), Innovation and Sustainability Manager, Senior Analyst Bob Cope and Small Business and Spirit (Economic Vitality Specialist).
The resulting spreadsheets of information detail the raw data reported by each individual, allowing each interested citizen to review the data without third-party translation.
The spreadsheet data is summarized below:
· Mayor Steve Bach - $3048.90
· Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations Laura Neumann - $0
· City Attorney Chris Melcher -$0
· Fire Chief Rich Brown -$458.30
· Police Chief Pete Carey - $672.90
· Economic Vitality Chief Steve Cox - $782.37
· Economic Vitality Specialist Donna Nelson - $75.00
· City Clerk Cindy Conway - $0
· Municipal Judges -$0
· Chief Financial Officer — NA
· Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy Johnson — $2131.21
· Human Resources Director Ann Crossey - $560.49
· Human Resources Manager Lori Smith - $980.98
· Chief Communications Officer Cindy Aubrey - $0
· Aviation Director Mark Earle - $3561.73
· Cemetery Manger / Operations Supervisor William Deboer - $28.53
· Parking Manger Greg Warnke -$0
· Information Technology Jesse James - $732.33
· Innovation and Sustainability Manager Nick Kittle -$883.28
· Senior Analyst Bob Cope -$35.00