In Shelby Township, being the police chief doesn't make you the highest paid law enforcement officer in town.
That honor went to a patrol officer, whose gross pay (including overtime) of $112,211 in 2009 exceeded the police chief's by almost $4,000, according to documents received in a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May of 2009, police and sheriff patrol officers made $51,270 (not including overtime) on average in the state of Michigan. All but five of the Shelby Township patrol officers surpassed that average salary in 2009. The average gross pay of the 50 Shelby Township patrol officers was $78,402.
According to a Freedom of Information Act Request, the Shelby Township Police Department has 72 employees, of which nine made six-figure gross salaries last year, and another 13 made $90,000 to $99,000. Thirty percent of the police force was paid at least $90,000 for 2009.
Also, according to the "all funds" 2010 budget information online, Shelby Township's expenses exceeded revenue by $2 million.
Shelby Township is one of many municipalities that are paying lucrative salaries while in red ink.
Several Shelby Township officials - including the supervisor and two of the trustees - didn't respond to requests for comment.
Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said he suspects these type of salaries are occurring throughout Michigan.
"This suggests that we still have problems of a more chronic nature," McHugh said. "It's anecdotal, but every local government-oriented reform activist I speak to recently seems to have similar stories."
McHugh said if municipal contracts were reviewed as closely as teachers' contracts "a lot of eyebrow-raising figures will come out."