The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 11, 2013

Minn. law gives peek at top local salaries

— ST. PAUL — Curious about which government workers earn the most money in your Minnesota city or county? It should be only a click away.

Since 2005, all cities and counties with 15,000 or more people must supply their residents with information about the base pay of the three highest-paid employees.

To test compliance, The Associated Press visited websites for the 126 cities and counties covered by the law. Notices need to be on a site for 90 days unless the information is mailed instead or included in a regular publication.

Many are removed after three months. Some are buried deep on a website. The AP contacted dozens of governments to obtain data that couldn’t be located on the Internet. All fulfilled the requests.

The law originated with then-state Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, who saw it as a way to keep tabs on what he thought were steadily rising salaries. Back then, Seifert was chairman of the House State Government Finance Committee and added the requirement to a spending bill that had to pass.

“It was not seen as a burdensome regulation to have them do this. It takes five minutes to put it on the website,” Seifert, who is now mulling a campaign for governor, said recently. “It was not to micromanage what local government did. But it was so the citizens paying their salaries had a good idea if they were getting good value for the dollars they were putting in. At that time there was a cloak of secrecy.”

The irony is that all public employee salary information is considered available to those who ask.

Prior Lake prominently displays its top three on its website year-round. The posting goes beyond the minimum as well, noting “longevity pay” and a $5,400 car allowance for its city manager despite no legal requirement to include it.

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