After filing a Maryland Public Information Act request, government watchdog group OpenTheBooks.com reviewed the employee headcounts of Baltimore's Department of Public Works since 2011. What did we find?
The city disclosures show that in 2011, there were 2,357 workers employed in the department of public works. At the start of 2022, the headcount was flat to slightly down at 2,345 workers-- ten years later.
However, costs ballooned. In 2011, the DPW payroll cost taxpayers $84.2 million and at the start of 2022, the DPW payroll cost $141 million!
If payroll costs were held to CPI inflation since 2011, the DPW payroll would only be $103 million, not $141 million.
What about the higher ranks — the directors, managers, and officers? How top heavy is the agency today?
The department is a lot top-heavier today than in 2011. While the number of regular workers is slightly down, the numbers of directors, managers, and officers are up sharply in every position.
For example, there are 5 highly paid directors today vs. 2 in 2011. There are 71 officers-in-charge today vs. just 13 officers in charge in 2011. There are 29 managers vs. 14 in 2011. So, there are more bosses bossing, but fewer workers working.
Today, there are 128 $100,000 workers vs. 2 just ten years ago. Stunning.
Yet, trash pickup is once every two weeks and Baltimore's brown drinking water is national headline news.
With fewer employees but more to do, is the department forced to pay overtime and extra compensation?
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found that the 2,345 employees split an estimated $24 million in extra pay last year — most of that was most certainly overtime (the city didn't break it out).
In 2021, the average base salary for an employee last year was $49,000; however, with the extra pay, the average employee made nearly $60,000 -- a substantial increase in cash compensation.
Lots of this extra pay is the result of understaffing in the department.