It’s so tempting to respond to Jim Wood’s question ("What are the pay, benefits," Sept. 9) about my salary, and the implication that I’m an entitled whiner, with snark. But the truth is, my rate of compensation IS his business. Public employee pay is public information.

So here it is: I have made $31.66 an hour in base pay since promoting into this position and receiving two step increases, which took me to the max. $31.66 wasn’t outrageous for someone with my level of responsibility, experience and education but it wasn’t bad for Bakersfield’s fairly low cost of living — at the time. Of course, that was gross pay, not take home. My gross pay today is $2,634 every two weeks, which includes a longevity special pay. By the time deductions for my share of benefits and voluntary deductions plus taxes are taken out, I net $1,559 and change biweekly. The employer share of my benefits is around $2,000 per pay period.

Nobody is saying that’s cheap, but it’s part of retaining a skilled workforce. There’s nothing normal about not giving your employees even modest annual increases or COLAs for 14 years and how much I make is actually irrelevant to that point. Unless we were all grossly overpaid from the start, going 14 years without across-the-board increases or COLAs should be an embarrassment to the County of Kern, not some twisted badge of honor.

— Karen Briefer, Bakersfield