Active citizens follow their tax dollars

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Being a good citizen takes work.

Even then, the path to good citizenship isn’t always smooth, let alone downhill.

Case in point: Some readers expressed shock Sunday when The Press printed its latest installment of public employee pay and benefits. The focus was on North Idaho College employees, and at the top of the list of best-compensated Cardinals was the president, Rick MacLennan.

According to the report provided by NIC, MacLennan’s salary last year was $206,000. (It was increased to $213,000 on July 1 of this year.) Data from the school also showed a category for stipends and overload pay — teaching extra classes, for example — where MacLennan received $25,235. Finally, and this was the land mine on the trail to understanding, a category for “fringe costs” showed $117,642 for the president.

Quite reasonably, some readers added those three categories together, only to discover that NIC President Rick MacLennan’s total compensation for one year was $348,877.

Yep; that’s a lot for a person overseeing a community college with 2,241 full-time students — about one-fifth the number attending Coeur d’Alene School District.

There’s just one little problem. MacLennan’s total compensation is well short of $350,000. Only after seeking further explanations that The Press should have included in its coverage did it become clear that MacLennan’s total compensation for a year — his salary, his taxpayer-funded retirement savings and his standard benefits like health insurance and vacation pay — comes to $275,358. The “fringe costs” include money MacLennan contributes to his own retirement accounts, college officials say; in other words, that money comes out of his $206,000 salary, not on top of it.

If you review the “fringe costs” category for other NIC employees, please keep that factor in mind.

And now, good citizen, you know the rest of the NIC compensation story.

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