WTOL 11 Investigates: How much are tax payers spending on city e - Tucson News Now

WTOL 11 Investigates: How much are tax payers spending on city employees?

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  • VIRAL VIDEO: Driver miraculously walks away after car goes airborne, careens towards gas pumps

    VIRAL VIDEO: Driver miraculously walks away after car goes airborne, careens towards gas pumps

    Friday, June 22 2018 3:30 PM EDT2018-06-22 19:30:43 GMT
    Surveillance cameras on a brand new gas station and convenience store capture a white compact sedan apparently speeding down Old Fannin Road towards Lakeland Drive in Flowood. Source: WLBTSurveillance cameras on a brand new gas station and convenience store capture a white compact sedan apparently speeding down Old Fannin Road towards Lakeland Drive in Flowood. Source: WLBT

    Surveillance cameras on a brand new gas station and convenience store capture a white compact sedan apparently speeding down Old Fannin Road towards Lakeland Drive in Flowood. 

    Surveillance cameras on a brand new gas station and convenience store capture a white compact sedan apparently speeding down Old Fannin Road towards Lakeland Drive in Flowood. 

  • Tree falls on camper in Ohio killing woman and granddaughter

    Tree falls on camper in Ohio killing woman and granddaughter

    Saturday, June 23 2018 5:39 PM EDT2018-06-23 21:39:38 GMT
    (Source: Raycom)(Source: Raycom)

    Authorities say a large tree has fallen on a camper in southwest Ohio, killing a woman and her young granddaughter.

    Authorities say a large tree has fallen on a camper in southwest Ohio, killing a woman and her young granddaughter.

  • Fire reported at Omnisource Recycling plant

    Fire reported at Omnisource Recycling plant

    Saturday, June 23 2018 11:47 PM EDT2018-06-24 03:47:50 GMT
    (Source: WTOL)(Source: WTOL)
    (Source: WTOL)(Source: WTOL)

    If you were in North Toledo Saturday night, you may have seen smoke just billowing into the air. Toledo fire crews were called out to a fire at Omnisource Recycling plant.  Crews got to the plant on North Detroit just after 6 p.m. and they say a pile of sheet iron caught fire. Right now that fire is out and fire crews say there are no environmental issues or runoff problems.

    If you were in North Toledo Saturday night, you may have seen smoke just billowing into the air. Toledo fire crews were called out to a fire at Omnisource Recycling plant.  Crews got to the plant on North Detroit just after 6 p.m. and they say a pile of sheet iron caught fire. Right now that fire is out and fire crews say there are no environmental issues or runoff problems.

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

If you live or work in Toledo, you pay taxes to Toledo. That means you're helping pay the 2,900 full-time employees of the city of Toledo. But pay them how much?  

We thought you might like to know since it is your money; a lot of your money.

You might assume the mayor  is the top wage-earner in a "strong-mayor" form of government.

Not so. In fact, we found that while Mayor Mike Bell's 2013 salary of $122,400 was the top base salary in the city, his total earnings didn't even put him in the top 10 of city of Toledo wage earners.

Checking out numbers in the city finance office, we learned that 8 city workers had a base salary over $100,000 in 2013.  We also discovered that, in reality, the full list of six-figure city wage-earners included 30 employees. 

One major reason for that is overtime.  The largest sum paid in overtime to a single employee in 2013 was over $39,000.  The top 10 overtime earners all earned upwards of $23,000 last year. 

Eight of the 10 are police officers.  But that number one overtime earner?  That was Michael Scott, a general foreman in the streets division who oversees demolitions, including fire demolitions. Scott is often called out after hours.

You might think that the answer to so much overtime is to simply hire more people.  Toledo Finance Director George Sarantou points out the problem with that approach.  

"When you hire more people, you also have to pay out more benefits and our benefit package is a very good benefit package as most companies in the private sector offer," said Sarantou.

We found out that city workers can bank unused sick time.  After 25 years on the job, they can turn 50 percent of that time into cash.  Last year, the top ten severance packages ranged from just over $59,000 all the way up to over $125,000.

"Again, this is something that has been negotiated in past labor situations," said Sarantou.

City leaders there say they constantly monitor what other Ohio cities and cities our size in the Midwest pay their workers.  They contend Toledo fares pretty well.

"Our salaries are not at the highest level.  In fact, very often they're at the bottom," said Sarantou.

The city has made big strides in cutting costs.  Sarantou says Toledo employs 300 to 400 fewer workers than when he joined city council 12 years ago.  He says recent pay raises have been very low and union employees have agreed to pick up more of their pension costs. 

Sarantou says for labor unions, it's a matter of protecting jobs. 

"The bargaining units understand, as we clearly understand, that we can't afford that kind of a benefit and if we continue down that road, there will be massive layoffs," said Sarantou.

So who was the city's top wage earner in 2013?  Former Police Chief Derrick Diggs cashed in his severance after it became clear that incoming Mayor D. Michael Collins was going to replace him.  After a long and storied career with the city, that severance alone topped six figures and helped Diggs earn a total package of nearly $319,000, according to the finance department. 

Crime may not pay, but in Toledo, crime-fighting certainly does.

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  • Vigil at Nogales border for kids separated from families

    Vigil at Nogales border for kids separated from families

    Sunday, June 24 2018 1:46 AM EDT2018-06-24 05:46:13 GMT
    Organizers set up their vigil alongside the border fence Saturday (Source: Tucson News Now).Organizers set up their vigil alongside the border fence Saturday (Source: Tucson News Now).
    Organizers set up their vigil alongside the border fence Saturday (Source: Tucson News Now).Organizers set up their vigil alongside the border fence Saturday (Source: Tucson News Now).

    Dozens came from as far as Flagstaff to Nogales in honor of the thousands of children waiting to be reunited with their parents. They may have been a small group, but they had a big message. "We want to make sure that those kids still get back to their families," said Christie Black, who traveled from Mesa for the vigil. Black and Julie Jorgenson never met in person until Saturday.

    Dozens came from as far as Flagstaff to Nogales in honor of the thousands of children waiting to be reunited with their parents. They may have been a small group, but they had a big message. "We want to make sure that those kids still get back to their families," said Christie Black, who traveled

  • Border Patrol responds to large group of immigrants in Arizona desert

    Border Patrol responds to large group of immigrants in Arizona desert

    Saturday, June 23 2018 10:38 PM EDT2018-06-24 02:38:11 GMT
    (Source: Border Patrol Tucson)(Source: Border Patrol Tucson)

    Border Patrol agents arrested a group of more than 50 illegal immigrants, including a pregnant woman, Friday afternoon west of Lukeville, according to a release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

    Border Patrol agents arrested a group of more than 50 illegal immigrants, including a pregnant woman, Friday afternoon west of Lukeville, according to a release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

  • Firework sales begin, can be lit starting Sunday

    Firework sales begin, can be lit starting Sunday

    Friday, June 22 2018 11:40 PM EDT2018-06-23 03:40:36 GMT

    The Fourth of July is creeping up quick, and that means several vendors like Desert Sky Fireworks on Cortaro and I-10 are getting ready for the season. The location set up shop on Friday.  "Lining them all up on the road -- lighting them all up and competing with the neighbors," said Ashley Walling, who runs the shop. Fireworks sparked her interest at an early age.   She started selling them when she was sixteen in ...

    The Fourth of July is creeping up quick, and that means several vendors like Desert Sky Fireworks on Cortaro and I-10 are getting ready for the season. The location set up shop on Friday. "Lining them all up on the road -- lighting them all up and competing with the neighbors," said Ashley Walling.

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