Powhatan County paper publishes salaries

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) - How much money do you make? It's a question many people are reluctant to answer. But for county employees in Powhatan, salaries have gone public. A community newspaper in the county has posted the information on its web site...and it's all perfectly legal.

Most people are mute on the subject of salary, but if you're a government or public school employee, it's everyone's business. That's why Powhatan Today, a local newspaper in the county, posted a database of county pay information on its website.

We spoke with several county employees today who didn't want to be identified. They say the publication of salaries violates a workplace taboo, and they worry about its effects on employee morale.

A Powhatan schools employee, who didn't want her identity revealed, says she's humiliated.

"Some people don't make a lot of money working for the county, and to me it's just embarrassing. I'm disappointed," she said.

But that doesn't make it illegal. According to Virginia law, government salaries are public information. A newspaper that obtains such information has the right to publish it.

The publisher of Powhatan Today, Joy Monopoli, explained the paper's decision by saying, "Given a heightened interest in the budget process, we felt this was a way to further inform our readers on how their tax dollars are spent."

For some of the employees listed on the paper's website, there are still unanswered questions.

"Why did you have to have our names? Why couldn't you just have our positions and the pay range for that position?"

According to Monopoli, the information was entered into the paper's web site exactly as it came to them from the county and the school system. 

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