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Editor's Note: Why we post salaries online

Dec. 14, 2007

Some questions have been raised about why we are starting to post public employee salaries on the MyCommunityNOW.com Web sites. We have heard from public employees who believe it's an invasion of their privacy to tell the world - and their neighbors - how much they're earning.

The immediate - and simplest - answer is that the salaries of all public employees is public information, and should be available to any citizen who asks for it. You are, after all, paying the salaries of these employees and are entitled to know exactly how much they earn.

But there's more to it than that.

Providing you with this information in a user-friendly, interactive format gives you the opportunity to be a "watchdog" of how much your school district is spending on employee salaries - and to raise questions if something doesn't look quite right. If your school superintendent is earning more than the governor, you can ask why. If teachers in your school district are getting paid more than those in nearby districts, you can bring that up to the School Board.

This salary information is even more critical because Wisconsin school districts this year raised their property taxes by 7.4 percent - the largest increase in more than 15 years. And much of that increase went to pay additional salaries and benefits of school employees. You have a right know exactly how that money is being spent - and how much an employee is earning.

All we're doing is making it easier for you to access - and interpret - that information.

Mark Maley, NOW Online Editor

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