How Many Baltimore City Employees Live in the City (January 8th, 2012)

One of the recurring questions that comes up among those that are follow city politics is how many city employees actually live in the city. Common belief holds (correctly or incorrectly) that city employees like police officers, planning officials, etc. can do their jobs better if they shared affinity with the city they worked in. Now, thanks to Baltimore City’s Open Baltimore project, we can actually look at the numbers.

The spreadsheet below is based on the data provided by OpenBaltimore as of January 2011. I added percentage columns and a count of in state, non city resident employees. My analysis appears after the document:

There are several surprising things in this document:

  • About 44% /  6,338 of city employees do not live in the city
  • About 5% / 743 city employees do not live in the state of Maryland!
  • Top six agencies by highest percentage of out of state employees are: Orphan’s Court (5 / 41%), Fire Academy Recruits (11 / 18 %), Mayors Office (16 / 16%), Comptroller’s Office (1 / 11 %), the Fire Department (184 / 11%) and Police Department (327 / 9%).
  • By sheer numbers, the highest six agencies with out of state employees are: Police Department (327), Fire Department (184), Health Department (47), Solid Waste/DPW (21), Water/DPW (19), and the Mayors Office (16).
  • Top six agencies with out of city, in state employees by percentage are: Wage Commissioner (3 / 100%), Audits /  Comptroller (23 / 63%), Police Department (2,155 / 62%), Finance / Account and Payroll (26 / 55%), Fire Department (902 / 53 %) and State’s Attorney’s Office (191 / 51 %).
  • Top six agencies with out of city, in state employees by sheer numbers are: Police Department (2,155 / 62%), Fire Department (902 / 53 %), Water/DPW (450 / 29%), Health Dept (263 / 25%), Highways / Transportation (211 / 25 %), and State’s Attorney’s Office (191 / 51 %).
  • Top six agencies with the lowest percentage of city resident employees are: Wage Commissioner (0 / 0%),  Police Department (977 / 28%), Fire Academy Recruits (20 / 33%), Comptroller / Audits (12 / 33%), Fire Department (616 / 36%) and Finance / Accounting and Payroll (20 / 42 %).
Now lets step back and take a look at the bigger picture. First, an entire city agency, the Wage Commission consists entirely of non-city resident employees. The two agencies which most citizens interact – police officers and fire fighters are majority non city residents, over 70 % in the police department and over 60% in the fire department. Another city agency people may run into is the State’s Attorney Office which is majority non city resident (54 %).  The courts, Circuit Court is 49% non city resident and Orphan’s Court is 50%. Sheriff’s Dept is 45% non city resident. District Court is not on the list.
Worse than that, why does the city have out of state employees, over 700 or 5% of the work force? How much do we pay for their commuting costs, etc.? Does the city spend extra money on out of state health insurance? Why is 40% of Orphan’s Court, 16% of the Mayor’s Office, almost 10% of both police and fire departments, and 7% of the city’s planning department live out of state? Between police and fire alone, over 500 employees are out of state. Now, I am not suggesting we should fire these people nor am I saying they are doing a bad job. Rather, I think the city should encourage employees to live in the city going forward, plus certain positions such police officers that do community work, should be encouraged to be members of the community. To be a police officer or fire fighter in the City of Baltimore takes a lot of guts, and whether they are in or out of city residents, we need to appreciate that and all of their hard work.
In closing, I do want to commend one city agency that has over 95% city resident employees – the city’s Department of Transportation’s crossing guards have 411 out of 431 employees living in the city of Baltimore. I guess they don’t get commuting costs and take home cars.
UPDATE: Thanks to the Baltimore City Paper for publishing a cutesy graphic and short article based on my data.

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