City Of Naperville Hands Out Hefty Salaries

If you are looking for job security, a great benefit package, and a hefty salary, look no further than the City of Naperville. The City of Naperville’s Earnings Report for the year of 2015, shows 300+ city employees each receiving more than $100,000 yearly in salary. Of those 300+ employees, about 70% work in the police and fire departments, and the remaining 30% include city staff, or slightly less than 100 employees pulling in 6-figures or more in salary.

Good for the police department and fire department employees. If there are two groups that should be high on the salary totem pole, it should be the folks who race towards danger, rather than race away from it. Yes, I know some of those folks are administrative, however during their careers, many have paid their dues facing possible dangerous situations. Others in administrative positions, are responsible for making sure those on the front line have the tools and training they need to get their jobs done safely. Those are necessary salary dollars, so the rest of us can live in a safer environment.

How about that group of almost 100 employees cashing-in with salaries of over $100,000 per year, which equates to over $10 million yearly. When exactly did the term of ‘civil servant’ go out of style? I’m guessing about 50 years ago. With over 5 million people in the Chicago area, and nearly 340 million folks in the country, it would appear that there is a lot of talent city officials could tap and save a bundle on salary. To think that those 100 or so city staff folks are the best available, would be as foolish as thinking the nine members of the Naperville city council are the most talented out of 144,000 Naperville residents. Surely there are six or seven residents that would be a definite upgrade to current city council.

City officials say the reasons for high salaries include:

  • retain talent
  • decrease turnover
  • hire talent
  • it’s a ‘point of pride’

Wow, a point of pride, are you kidding me. So we want others to know we have the money (tax dollars) to overpay city employees, thereby qualifying as a “wealthy city”. Why not just add another ‘zero’ to the 6-digit salary and become the wealthiest city in the nation. What’s another ‘zero’ when it comes from the taxpayers anyway.

The real problem is not necessarily the high salaries, it’s the ‘job security’ issue. Under-performers are allowed to stay and keep under-performing. Apparently the City does not subscribe to the 10% rule, which means get-rid of 10% of the lowest performers, to then be replaced with potentially higher performers. Each year you have a new low-performing 10% group, and eventually even your lowest 10% are performing at an acceptable level. If the City of Naperville was a major league baseball team, they could be the Cubs of municipal government by following this 10% rule.

If the City truly wants a ‘point of pride’, how about being the most competent, efficient and friendliest municipal government in the mid-west as a starter.

Show 5 Comments


  1. Woody Ash

    Other benefits too? I suspect that along with six figure salaries, free meals may also be part of the “perks”. Have you ever noticed a fire truck parked at one of the local grocery stores? Buying food, no doubt. Hey, everybody’s gotta eat, right? But I wonder if those shoppers look for sales or are they cozied up to the meat counter ordering filet mignon? Whatever food they order, it must be pretty good since the traffic in and out of the fire stations seems to increase significantly during meal hours.

    So along with great salaries, really good free meals might go along with the package.

    ps. I’ll let somebody else address what overtime costs might be.

    • Kevin

      I’m not sure how it works in Naperville, but in 99% of cities, the firefighters themselves pay for the food, not your tax money.

    • Susan gatto

      They work 24 hours shifts and pay for their own food. …. Then they eat cold meals because they have calls during their dinner or lunch.. And they do not get breaks.

  2. Bob West

    I don’t disagree totally about your analysis, the inequity in salaries over the years has gotten worse but I also think that being one of the largest cities in Illinois requires a salary plan that attracts top talent. Whether the hiring managers do a good job in selecting is the real question. I pay my people according to the market, but many times need to go higher to get someone really good. If I hire someone mediocre, or through favoritism than shame on me. Is my compensation plan flawed? I don’t think so.

    here is my biggest disagreement with your analysis. The 10% rule.
    Would you apply that to Doctors? Obviously there are those that graduated that were in the bottom 10% of their class. You might even be going to one right now for treatment. You are paying the same amount for services as if they were in the top 20%.

    You are using Jack Welch’s school of management and that was a morale killer. Everyone was more worried about losing their job than just doing their job. The top 20% were highly compensated, the middle 70% were “safe” but not really rewarded and the bottom 10% were purged periodically. Once you dropped the bottom 10% guess what? The lowest of the 70% which were safe, are now the targeted 10%.

    That approach only feeds Wall Street and doesn’t contribute to a healthy working atmosphere.

    • Jim Haselhorst

      I totally agree with Bob West. I am not so much interested in the number of employees that make this amount but what percentage of total city employees make up this level of compensation. And how does this percentage compare to the other 5 Largest city in our state.

      As to the 10% rule, it is total BS. Anyone that has worked in a Human Resources capacity know the damage this kind of arbitrary rule has not only on moral but the reputation of the employer, which effect the ability of and employer to attract the best talent. What good is a 10% rule if it results in only being able to attract the lowest performers to apply for any job openings?

      The reality is that 10% is a completely arbitrary and unjustifiable percentage. In statistical quality control the industry standard is 2 standard deviations with translates to just under 5% of the population or half of this arbitrary 10% rule (statistically the 10% rule is 1.65 standard deviation). Further it is only appropriate to apply such statistics if the population it is being applied to has been proven to have a normal distribution and if the effect of applying it will not significantly change the population characteristics (i.e. cause the most talented people to leave the population).

      Nothing in this article make me any less confident in how our city government is managed or leads me to believe my tax dollars are being misused in anyway.

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