Palm Beach County officials reacts to Contact 5 salary investigation

More than 600 people made more than 6 figures

WEST PALM BEACH, fla. - Six figure salaries; there are a lot of them in Palm Beach County.  Some county commissioners are reacting to a Contact 5 Investigation that uncovered a large amount of government workers making more than $100,000 a year.  Some commissioners are even pushing for change.

After more than two months of crunching state and county salary numbers, the Contact 5 Investigators discovered more than 600 Palm Beach County government workers made more than six figures last year.  That's more than triple the number in some counties of similar size in Florida.  They're all salaries approved over the years by the Palm Beach County Commission.

 "I was very much surprised by the numbers," said Commissioner Paulette Burdick.

Burdick has only been on the commission for a year, but said she was not only surprised by the large amount of large salaries, but also to learn a majority of those top salaries, more than 400 of them, belong to the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Department.

"Everyone has been asked to cut back some," said Burdick.  "I'm hoping that our bargaining units will see fit to give a little back also because what it means is it will keep more people employed," she said.

The county's negotiating a new contract right now with the Fire Rescue Department.

County leaders are asking for a 22 percent reduction in starting pay for new fire rescue workers to cut down on costs.

In an email to the Contact 5 Investigators, Commissioner Steven Abrams stated he hopes the new contract will "Address salaries, which I hope will reflect the new budget realities you discussed in your report."

"All of the things we're doing now is like turning the Queen Mary," said the new chair of the commission Shelley Vana.

Vana said if anyone should be paid well in county government, it should be those on the front lines.

Vana also said all employees are facing a new budget reality.

"I think both sides understand that there, you know, is an issue with money and so everyone's at the table right now trying to negotiate some of those things," said Vana.

A new contract isn't expected to be finalized until sometime in the New Year.  It's up to the county commission to give its final approval of that contract.

NewsChannel 5 will keep you updated on what happens.

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