COT Employee Salaries Outpace Teachers, State Workers with 22% Growth Since 2008

COT Employee Salaries Outpace Teachers, State Workers with 22% Growth Since 2008

Has the average salary for City of Tallahassee general fund employees increased by 20% since 2008?

Former Mayor Penny Herman, a member of the budget group Citizens for Responsible Spending (CRS), recently spoke at the City Commission’s budget workshop and asked elected officials to roll back the 13% property tax increase adopted last year.

One of the issues she addressed in support of the roll back request was a 20% increase in City employee salaries over the last 8 years. Ms. Herman said this growth was unsustainable and was unfair when compared to the growth in Leon County teacher and state employee salaries over the same period.

Ms. Herman previously spoke about this issue on WFSU’s  public affairs program, Perspectives.

TR decided to take a detailed look at the issue and to expand on the comparison.

Listed below is a table of average salaries for City of Tallahassee general fund employees, Leon County teachers, state employees in Leon County, and the complete Leon County workforce. The table covers the period from 2008 to 2015 and shows the wage change in terms of dollars and percentage growth.

The information below does not include the pay raises that City of Tallahassee employees received in 2016 as part of the  budget which included a 13% property tax increase.



The table shows the City of Tallahassee general fund employees have experienced the largest increase in average salaries during this time period with growth of 22.18%.. This translates into a gain of $10,313. Average city employee salaries have increased from $46,487 in 2008 to $56,800 in 2015. These average salary figure were  calculated from City of Tallahassee budget documents using full-time equivalent positions and salary information.

Coming in second, with growth of 7.30%, were all workers in Leon County. The average wage for workers in Leon County increased from $38,526 in 2008 to $41,340 in 2015 for a 7.3% growth rate. This information was collected from the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Labor Market Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages.

Third placed belonged to state workers in Leon County. The average salary increased from $44,282 to $45,660 for a 3.11% increase over the seven year period. This information was also collected from the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Labor Market Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages.

The lowest wage growth in the comparison belonged to Leon County teachers. Average teachers salaries in Leon county, during the time period from 2008 to 2015, actually decreased by $1,053. The source of this information was the Florida Department of Education. We wrote a report about teacher salaries earlier this year. The report can be viewed here. 


From 2008 to 2015, the wage gap between the average salary of the City of Tallahassee employees and other segments of our community has grown.

For example, in 2008  the average City of Tallahassee employee salary was approximately $2,500 higher than the average salary of state employees and Leon County teachers. In 2015,  that difference grew to $11,000 for state employees and $13,500 for Leon County teachers.

Also, in 2008 , the average City of Tallahassee employee salary was approximately $8,000 higher than the average salary of all workers in Leon County. In 2015,  this gap grew to $15,500.

During the 2017 budget process, TR will continue to investigate City of Tallahassee salaries and how they compare locally and to other local governments.

21 Responses to "COT Employee Salaries Outpace Teachers, State Workers with 22% Growth Since 2008"

  1. Steve,

    Off Topic but…

    I love your research. Since so many readers like myself find your information on local government more helpful than any other publication, shouldn’t our local government be spending some of “our” advertising dollars with your publications. How are city and county advertising dollars allocated among the various media sources? How much money does city and county spend with local media? How much do they spend with you?

  2. Does the $45,660 State Employee average include the 3% “pension contribution” tax that Rick Scott implemented in 2011? If not, then there is actually a net decrease in State Worker compensation compared to 2008.

  3. Do the budget documents include overtime pay for the general employees, or simply state the paid wages for the previous year? Overtime monies would skew the data some, wouldn’t it?

  4. Good reporting and thank you TR for shining the light on the truth. In addition, this high-cost City Government is not producing desirable results as previous writers have espoused. Tallahassee is a difficult and expense place to do business. The heart of that problem is the bureaucracy that has been created in City Hall. It has a negative national reputation if the truth is allowed to be known.

    I do not see Tallahassee listed as one of the top twenty cities to retire in, or one of the top twenty college towns in America, or one of the top twenty cities to start a business in. Having been here for forty-five years, I can say, it is the corrupt professional political class that has taken over our local government over the last twenty years.

    The growth of government and the evidence that City’s
    salaries dwarf salaries in other sectors of our city is proof that we are on the wrong track.

  5. Oh, please. We are going to punish COT workers because state legislature and local school district doesn’t value its employees enough to give them raises? However angry we might be about the tax increase, arguing that decent pay increases (a significant proportion of which is first responder negotiated) ought to be eliminated because other public entities are short sighted is exactly the wrong move.

  6. Unfair? Unsustainable? How dare you Penny Herman?! How dare you Tallahassee Reports and Steve Stewart!! It’s not that City employees are doing anything more or less than than any other. The fact is, Tallahassee / Leon County faired better than many areas of the State during the economic collapse. State workers have been virtually ignored by the Florida legislature. So much so, that some legislators have started paying bonuses to staff from their own pockets in order to keep skilled staff members. Why should State workers and municipal employees be considered any less valuable than public sector employees? Why should north Florida labor be considered less valuable than that around, or south of the I-4 corridor?

    The facts is Leon County has more “non-taxable” land than many other Counties in Florida. The City *has* surplus not because of of public funds, but from profits from a lucrative AND WELL MANAGED public utility. In fact, millage rates have been kept lower than many *because of* profitability and competent management. And who do you suppose makes management look good??

    You want to be government hawks? Fine. But get your grubby hands out of the pockets of of State and municipal workers just trying to make ends meet, while the two of you live the above average lifestyles while 23.3% of the County population lives in poverty. (US census)

    In the private sector, it is hard to find good help. More true is, it’s even more difficult to *keep* good help when economic perceptions are so rediculously askew from reality. So don’t complain when the work product of our governments are less than desirable. After all Steve Stewart, who will be left to get you your public information, or Ms. Herman’s permitting and growth management statistics in a timely and accurate manner?!

    1. Hey Nun:

      Steve simply presented facts on compensation of various government entities. He did not draw any conclusions or offer any opinions. He did not provide any opinions on whether the numbers were too high or too low. Simply facts. In other words, facts are not opinions. I suspect you are perpetually aggrieved.

      1. The inference cast aspersions. The nature of the article is not fair, nor balanced. It’s more of a bully pulpit. How about contrasting those numbers with the size and volume of work, or wages per capita, or draw comparisons to the labor pool between skills in the private sector.

        Perpetually aggrieved, huh? Let’s see you raise a family of three under for wages under $40k per year with a college education in this town. I bet you don’t have a clue what starting salaries are at the City, County and State levels. I suspect you are perpetually single, or living large off your spouse.

        1. You are obviously very emotional about a very fact-based article with no implied agenda or position. Steve simply presented numbers. Don’t blame Steve for presenting facts.

          Also, I can’t help that the college degree that you voluntarily obtained was apparently of low market value and you voluntarily chose to have child(ren).

        2. Nun Ya – Sincerely, thank you for the work you do, and the dedication you have to providing the best for your family. I have no trouble with you being rewarded with increases for your efforts; as with any profession, if you don’t feel sufficiently rewarded, change your job. If you’re wages are flat from 7 or 8 years ago, and the benefits aren’t what you require, it’s on you to make the change. Own it, rather than grouse about someone else’s situation.

          1. I also like how she leaves out the Cadillac health plan at present and for life as well as the pension for life. Us non-government cocoon folks usually get neither.

          2. Dirk Dynamin – health care and pension are part of the total compensation, trading higher pay for other benefits. If the employer doesn’t provide it, find one who does, or fund it yourself. Anyone preventing that?

          3. You mistake my commenting on Nun’s whining for whining about my situation. I’m not whining. I pay for it myself. Without whining.

  7. I took an old fashion “Sunday Drive” today and as I rolled about our seven hills I was amazed at the beauty of the place.
    I’ve lived here all my life and it was not just the lush green spring that aroused me; it was how it is we keep our little city so up to date and livable.
    So when I got home and read TR’s piece about COT employees’ salaries it was difficult for my grouchy, conservative self to rise to the issue.
    COT employees salaries are not out of line. Teachers and State workers….I’ve been both….have always sucked hind teat but the fault, whatever it is, lies elsewhere.
    Our City leads every list of excellence by which Cities compare themselves.
    Back out some of our elected officials, many of whom are eat up with the “dumb ass” and some appointed folk likewise and you’ll see we pretty much have things worked out.
    And at a good price, too.

  8. Hey Phil, us private sector folks are making less in 2016 than we did in 2008. No health care or pensions waiting for us. Nice and warm in your government cocoon I surmise.

  9. even at 22 % that is only 3% per year. thats what evryone should be get ting. at least the city valuesvtheir employees, unlike rick scott and our sorry legislature. its a shame jackie didnt raise teachers salaries

  10. Good information. It would be interesting to see the total FTE counts for each of the groups for 2008 and 2015, and the total population bases they serve for those years as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.