I-Team finds City of Cleveland painter job with higher salary than some firefighters, EMTs and police officers

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CLEVELAND - The Fox 8 I-Team has found a City of Cleveland job opening for a painter with a salary much higher than the pay for some police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians.

The job posting shows two years of experience needed for a city painter job that pays $33.24-$41.55 per hour. That adds up to more than $69,000-$86,000 per year.

The I-Team went to Cleveland’s CEO and asked, ‘Why that much money for a painter?’

Darnell Brown said painter pay is set by contract. The city pays workers for a couple dozen trades the same way: 80% of prevailing wage. Put another way, 80% of what union workers get for those trades in the private sector plus benefits. Brown said, “We go by what is prevailing wage statewide for construction and for building and trades.”

We found base salaries for Cleveland firefighters and police officers only going up to $55,000 plus. The base salary for emergency medical technician goes up to $47,000 plus.

Taxpayers were stunned by our findings. So was Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell.

"I’m shocked. You just triggered something in my mind. I need to look at other jobs in that profession, maybe carpenters, plumbers, and painters,” he said.

The city only has two painters. But again, other city workers in trades make more than you might think. Darnell Brown pointed out, “They’re making a lot more than a lot of folk in the public and private sector, but again, that’s subject to collective bargaining.”

The Cleveland Police union also reacted. Union President Steve Loomis issued a statement saying:

“While we do not begrudge painters an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, the fact that city painters are apparently making more than the men and women that protect and keep our citizens safe is demonstrative of the priorities of our city's leadership. The safety forces of Cleveland have been treated as a necessary evil for far too long.”

For the painter opening, the job posting shows applications will be accepted through Thursday, March 3.