Sunday, May 11, 2008

City Employment Numbers Just Don't Add Up

In time, we suspect that the controversy over the growing payroll in City Hall will be tempest in a teapot.

A week ago, Memphis City Council members cross-examined Memphis Chief Administrative Officer Keith McGee about a budget document that showed that the number of employees growing from 5,162 in 2006 to a requested payroll of 6,573 in the coming fiscal year.

It makes absolutely no sense, and when the smoke clears, we predict that a miscalculation by a clerk in personnel is responsible for this political dust-up.

For example, we suspect that one number might be employees paid by the general fund, and the second might be total employees – general fund and grant-funded.

After all, the number of employees at City of Memphis has been listed at more than 6,000 for about a decade, and in 2004, researchers at the Memphis Regional Chamber said that city government had 6,680 employees.

It’s impossible for us to imagine that by 2006, the payroll had dropped by about 1,500 employees, much less that the proposed budget would add 1,500 new employees to city government.

This is one time when City Hall’s lack of interest in the media is taking its toll, because this confusion should have been explained and cleared up within hours.