The City of Pittsburgh — for the first time in at least five fiscal years — decreased how much it spent on overtime pay and some other kinds of payments above base salaries.
“Truth-in-budgeting has been one of my priorities the past seven years, and part of that means determining the best operating budget numbers for Public Safety and other departments, and thereby lowering overtime costs,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in an April 30 statement to PublicSource. “I’ve been happy to see those efforts working.”
Pittsburgh spent about $252.7 million to pay 4,037 employees in 2019, a PublicSource review of salary data shows. That figure comprises salary, overtime and bonuses, and represents a roughly 7% increase over 2018, when the city had 55 fewer employees. The amount paid out for premium pay has increased each of the last five fiscal years, but decreased roughly 9% from $47.9 million in 2018 to $43.5 million in 2019.
Peduto has said he expected overtime costs to rise in 2020 because of the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, although those costs have not yet been estimated. The city also incurred high overtime costs in 2018 from demonstrations over the death of Antwon Rose II, indicating that police overtime may again rise in response to ongoing demonstrations against racism and police brutality.
Due to the COVID-19 shutdown and stay-at-home orders, Pittsburgh is bracing for a budget deficit of more than $30 million, or a roughly 25% revenue decline. To target the gap, city officials implemented a hiring freeze, will leave open positions unfilled and are expected to cut non-personnel spending by 10% across departments.
PublicSource has provided spending transparency on salaries, premium and other pay for city, county and state employees since 2014, because it is, after all, taxpayer money.
Salaries by department
The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police spent $94.1 million on salaries in 2019, more than any other city division or department. That’s also more than all the non-public safety departments combined.
Part of the reason for the steep price tag is the number of employees. With 1,197 employees – the largest of any division or department – roughly three in 10 city employees work for the police bureau.
The other contributing factor was premium pay.
At $17.6 million, police officers collected more premium pay than employees in any other department. Six entities — the City Controller’s Office, City Council, Mayor’s Office, Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment, City Clerk and the Citizen Police Review Board — paid out no premium pay in 2019.
Gender & race of workforce
Pittsburgh’s population in 2019 was 51.1% female, according to 2019 U.S. Census estimates. Women made up 25.8% of the city’s workforce that year.
Non-white women made up 7.9% of the workforce. White women accounted for 17.9% of the city workforce while Black women held 6.2% of city jobs.
Pittsburgh’s population in 2019 was 23.2% Black. At 19.6%, Black employees comprised the largest minority group among the city’s workforce. Black men held 13.4% of city jobs. Latinx, who represent 3.1% of the city’s population, comprised 1.5% of city employees.
Median salaries & disparities
The median salary for all city employees in 2019 was $50,275, including full-time, part-time and temporary workers. For men working full time, the median salary was $59,478. The median salary for women working full time was $44,707.
Men in every racial category made more than their female counterparts. The widest pay gap in full-time median salaries lie between white men, with a median of $64,449, and Black women, with a median of $41,863.
Top 25 earners
Here are the 25 city employees in 2019 whose salaries – before benefits, bonuses and/or overtime – were the highest.
Employees who made more than Peduto
Peduto is the top official in the city, but he’s not the highest paid. With a salary of $113,942, there were 435 city employees who took home more than Peduto in 2019.
The top earner distinction goes to Department of Public Safety Crew Chief Jerome R. Wasek, who earned $290,871 last year, 70% of which was premium pay. Wasek’s base pay in 2019 was $82,352.07.
“Public Safety employees making overtime are the city’s highest-paid employees every year,” McNulty said in an email to PublicSource. “That is one of the reasons why the City has sought to add more employees, especially in EMS where that employee works.”
Eliminating premium pay, Peduto was the city’s 13th highest-paid employee. All the city employees with higher base salaries than Peduto were high-ranking public safety staff.
Here are the employees who made more money in 2019 than Peduto.
Correction (7/1/2021): A chart showing spending by department has been revised to include spending with overtime.
Nicole C. Brambila is the local government reporter for PublicSource. She can be reached at 412-515-0072 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was fact-checked by Eric Holmberg.
This fact-based local reporting drives impact and creates change. Help power that impact.
James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” PublicSource exists to help the Pittsburgh region face its realities and create opportunities for change. When we shine a light on inequity in our region, like the “completely unacceptable” conditions in low-income housing in McKeesport, things change. When we ask questions about policymakers’ decisions, like how Allegheny County is handling COVID-19 safety for its employees, things change. When we push for transparency on issues that affect the public, like in the use of facial recognition software by Pittsburgh police, things change.
It takes a lot of time, skill and resources to produce journalism like this. Our stories are always made available for free so that they can benefit the most people, regardless of ability to pay. But as an independent, nonprofit newsroom, we count on donations from our readers to support this crucial work. Can you make a contribution of any amount (or better yet, set up a recurring monthly gift) to help ensure we can continue to report on what matters and tell stories for a better Pittsburgh?