by Max Brantley
A reader who checks the fine print pointed out this interesting anomaly to me.
In the recent sales tax campaign, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola boasted about how the city had restrained growth of its workforce and employed only a bit more than 1,500 people. To quote from his state of the city address in March:
The city enacted a half-penny city sales tax in mid-year 1994, some 17 years ago. The rate has never increased. In 1995, the first full year of collecting our half-penny sales tax, we had a total of 1,537 employees. … Now we have 1,542 employees on the payroll for a net gain of five employees.
The City of Little Rock has fourteen (14) City Departments, and approximately 2,500 employees who work hard to maintain and improve the quality of life for our 183,000+ citizens.
1,500 — 2,500? What's the diff? Though it does make you worry a little about the city's math on spending an additional HALF BILLION DOLLARS. (Already reports are trickling in of projects costing a LOT more than we'd previously been told. I'll believe the city has built that West Little Rock fire station — which the mayor said during his last election campaign had been completed — when I see a truck parked in it.)
I've asked City Manager Bruce Moore for an employee count. UPDATE: Sara Lenehan, the finance director, said the number of full-time authorized positions in the City-Wide 2011 budget is 2016. As of the September 2, 2011 payroll, there were 219 vacant positions, leaving a net number of 1797 full-time positions.
But meanwhile, The Arkansas Times' database of city employee pay shows 2,118 city of Little Rock employees, by name, and another 586 at autonomous agencies controlled by city appointees — wastewater, airport and convention bureau. UPDATE: Lenehan says our employee list is enlarged by part-time labor, mostly in youth programs, and by turnover.
I guess the better headline question is whether Mayor Stodola can count? Or tell the truth?