The 11 percent solution
The perks of office compared
From the July, 2009 issue
Faced with a $26 million revenue shortfall over the next two years, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners voted in early June to cut its own $600,000 budget by 11 percent. But at first glance, even the new $534,000 figure for the county's eleven commissioners looks bloated: the city budgets just $350,000 for its eleven-member council (including the mayor's office).
Look closer, though, and the gap looks more like a crevice. It turns out the county bills the commission $143,000 a year-$13,000 per commissioner-for office space, human resources, information technology, and other support services. The city accounts for those types of expenses in its general budget.
The officials' pay is almost identical-county commissioners earn $16,126 a year, city council members $15,914. But commissioners get some per-diem pay that council members don't. And-this is the real perk-commissioners also get an average of $5,832 annually in medical, dental, liability and other insurance. Council members get no insurance at all.
[Originally published in July, 2009.]