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Thread: Pay (puposely not put in career subforum)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Dec 2008
    the delta

    Pay (puposely not put in career subforum)

    A friend of mine works in the southwest. Let's just say there are major budget issues...

    Kinda of random here, but why are the wages so high down there (Phoenix, in case you guessed Las Vegas) when there are no property taxes, now very inexpensive housing for the square footage you can get, etc? I am in the Midwest where property taxes are high, and yes, housing prices are cheaper than other places, but why such discrepancies between pay? Let's just say as an intern/part-timer there are people in his office making close to $26/hour.

    If housing costs are the reason they pay so much, shouldn't wages go down now that housing prices have gone down? I guess I don't understand the need for such high pay when there are no property taxes.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
    Jun 2007
    Oklahoma City
    The southwesterners on this thread probably have more insight than I do, but I know that my grandparents (both sets live in Arizona) pay pretty high utilities rates and other living expenses like vehicle registration/maintenance, gas prices, etc. Do they still have to truck in all the gasoline into Arizona?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
    May 2004

    hazard pay

    There is always the possibility of ending up 8 feet outside town 6 feet under if you say no to the wrong developer.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Apr 2006
    Promoting synergies...
    Here is some insight to Arizona's pay scale...coming from one of the lowest paid economic development person's in the state.

    Sale's taxes in Arizona are high. They average around 8.5%. You buy a new car and you get to tack on a $1,500 at the time of purchase. This is part of the reason why AZ is having such a hard time balancing its budget. The state just reinstated the "county equalization tax" which actually goes to the state. For the past 3 years the state has gotten no money from property tax; it went to the schools, community colleges and the local municipalities...or at least the ones that have a primary property tax. Mesa (pop 450,000) and Gilbert (pop 216,000) do not have primary property tax. The Phoenix metro areas cost of living is ussually around the national average.

    Housing is only affordable if you are buying now or bought 6 years ago or more. If you bought in the past 6 you are definitely upside down. I bought a house a last July and saw a comp in my neighborhood go for 70K less on a 200k home. I figure it will take 10 years before I can sell my home and break even.

    Phoenix does pay well and should not be the benchmark for Arizona. Although most of the surrounding cities did adjust their payscale to reduce turnover. During the housing bubble planning departments were working non stop and they wanted to make sure they had staff and did not lose them to another city. Now most of them are laid off and your friend is lucky to have a job. Phoenix is about to do another round of layoffs as well.

    Unless the intern is part of the Phoenix management intern program I find it hard to believe the intern is making $26 an hour since according to the Phoenix web site a Planner I pay range is between $49K and $73K. The salaries in Arizona seem similar to those in the Midwest in my experience.

    I find it surprising how little government employees make in New England.

    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Do they still have to truck in all the gasoline into Arizona?
    No, El Paso has a pipeline but that is it. The funny thing is gas prices in AZ are below the national average. There is no oil refinery in the state so if the pipe breaks like it did in 2003 then we are trucking in gas.

    The mafia has not been a player in Arizona since the 1980's. Three things happened. They killed a reporter for the Republic, The "legitimate" businessmen like Keating crowded them out and three there was more money to be made in Vegas.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  5. #5
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
    Blog entries
    I think the disparities in planning pay throughout the United States, even considering the cost of living in a region, is one of the biggest mysteries here on Cyburbia; it's a frequent topic of discussion. Was Zanesville, Ohio ever able to find an AICP-certified MUP for $27K? Why is the pay for planners in New York City, the most expensive place to live in the US, about the same as for equivalent positions in Kansas, while teachers in NYC get six-digit salaries?

    My experience: planning salaries in the Northeast and much of the Rust Belt are the lowest in the country, considering the cost of living. Rural Appalachia isn't much better.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries


    What Brocktoon says seems about right.

    From my perspective, planners seem to exude a similar selfdom to social workers, in that they worry more about others and sacrifice their own well being in the form of low pay Especially in New England
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  7. #7
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    Everyone has made good points, I think. The 8.5 percent sales tax is a bit of a killer, too (its about the same in NM) as is the cost of transportation. I wasn't clear who in the department is making $26/hr, but that does seem a bit on the high side to me. Even in a place like Seattle, with high housing costs and pretty high salaries, too, this would be a coveted amount, depending on your experience level.

    The other thing I would say about fluctuating home prices and their relationship to salaries is that housing price changes are temporary and tempermental. While house values may be lower now, many people own a home that they paid much more for in recent years and their mortgage has not changed. Conversely, housing prices could rise again and a new employee might suddenly be unable to afford one. Plus, especially working for a municipality, its rare that someone's salary would actually decrease in response to cost of living changes. At worst you would stay level (current state and local budget crises notwithstanding).

    I think you are right overall to think you must be missing something. I have spent a lot of time poking around looking at jobs all over the US and there is no secret corner of the world where we get paid more and it costs less to live. For the most part, things seem fairly level once housing, cost of living, taxes, transportation costs, etc. are taken in to consideration. But that's the really scary part about moving for a job. You just don't know how much money you will have at the end of the month after al is said and done until you actually do it. And then it may be too late...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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