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Thursday, December 23, 2010 7:22 PM

Florida League of Cities Poll on Police and Fire Salaries Shows Public out of Touch Regarding Benefits

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An interesting Poll by the Florida League of Cities on Police and Fire Benefits shows the public is way out of touch with how generous police and fire benefits are. When asked if benefits were too high, most thought no. When given actual benefit levels most thought the opposite.

Here are snips from the executive summary and a few questions.


When it comes to the pay and benefits of police and fire fighters, voters are generally unaware of the array of benefits currently afforded them. Initially and by a large margin most respondents felt these benefits are “about right” or “too low”.

We asked an extended series of questions identifying the assortment of pay and benefits currently provided to most police and fire fighters. Almost without exception, voters feel that most of these benefits are too generous. For example, 63% felt retirement benefits should be consistent with other government employees, 66% opposed 20 years and out, and 73% felt that adding overtime to base calculations was unfair. Further, 70% oppose DROP, 71% felt $70,000 per year average salary was too high, and a whopping 84% felt they should not make the same when they retire as when they are working!

Oddly, more than 60% stated that increasing benefits could bankrupt local government yet 77% do not equate these pension benefits to taxes and instead correlate higher taxes to “other spending and other government programs”.

We can conclude, based on these findings, that the public is largely ignorant or agnostic to benefit packages and salaries currently available to police and fire fighters. However, once they are informed about these benefits, they believe they are excessive and have problems with several of them specifically.

1. Do you think that the salary and benefits provided to police officers and fire fighters are:

Much Too High 9%
Somewhat High 12%
About Right 51%
Too Low 28%

Just over half of respondents said that salaries and benefits provided to police officers and fire fighters are just right.

3. Which of the following comes closer to your opinion?

Police officer and firefighters should be allowed to retire after 20 years of
service because their jobs are hard. 37%
They should have retirement benefits that are consistent with other government employees. 63%

4. In some cities, police officers or firefighters can retire after 20 years of service and receive 80% of their salaries for the rest of their lives. This means that for many, they can retire in their early to mid forties and receive pensions as high as $80,000 per year for the rest of their lives. Do you:

Strongly Support 16%
Somewhat Support 18%
Somewhat Oppose 24%
Strongly Oppose 42%
Support 34%
Oppose 66%

9. If you knew that the retirement pay for an average police officer was over $70,000 per year would you say:

That is Too Low 1%
That it is About Right 28%
That it is Too High 45%
That it is Much Too High 26%
These results show just how effective police and fire unions have been on fearmongering campaigns as well as bitching about how little they get paid and getting the public to believe it.

Cities need to do a far better job at education the public just how exorbitant police and fire contracts are, and that it is tax dollars that support those untenable benefits, putting cities in financial jeopardy.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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