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David Trinko: Why haven't we printed salary lists yet?

Mar. 16—If there's a hot-button issue, there's bound to be a conspiracy surrounding it.

I recently received a call telling me The Lima News was in the pocket of a local government on the ballot on Tuesday, hiding information to help its levy pass.

A few days later, I received another call telling me The Lima News was in the pocket of the people against that same issue on the ballot on Tuesday, hiding information to help the levy fail.

That's the amusing thing about rumors and conspiracies. With the lack of real information, people will believe what they want to believe, even believing the opposite of what other conspiracy theorists think.

I'm in the "sharing information" business, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Each year, The Lima News publishes the top 10 salary-earners from each municipal government for a place with at least 1,500 people in it and for each school district for Allen, Auglaize, Putnam and Van Wert counties. The newspaper has gathered this information and highlighted an issue related to taxpayer-financed employees for the past 30 years.

Last year's school list came out Feb. 26. Last year's municipal list came out March 5. So why hasn't it come out yet? Are we entwined in a vast conspiracy to hide how your elected officials spend your money?

The simple answer — no — centers around those elections coming up Tuesday. We've always felt it was our job to give you the basic information you need to know what's on the ballot. We leave the convincing you how to vote part to the politicians, your friends and likely your social media feed.

As one TV network that's popular around here likes to repeat, "We report. You decide."

Most of the time, Ohio's primary elections are in May, so printing those salary lists in late February or early March isn't that big of a deal. People get their information, and there's a chance to peruse it and decide for yourself if the people working for you as a taxpayer are overpaid, underpaid or paid just right.

This year, the primary moved up to March 19, in an effort to give Ohioans a voice in selecting the parties' candidate for president. (Spoiler alert: It didn't. We already know the major parties' candidates.)

With an election this close, I thought it made more sense to publish the information from 2023 a little bit later, so people wouldn't accuse us of torpedoing their levy campaign one way or another. We didn't want to print these lists during the early voting window. It's a decision I made back in January. In hindsight, I probably should've written this column back then to explain it.

It doesn't mean we won't still share this information with you soon. We still believe it's important for taxpayers to know how their government spends their money. After all, without the taxpayers, there are no government coffers.

The municipal list will appear in next Saturday's edition of The Lima News, on Saturday, March 23. The schools' lists will appear Saturday, March 30. Both will be safely after the ballots are counted in the March 19 election.

It's an issue that thankfully only comes up every four years. I suspect we'll hear similar conspiracy theories in 2028 too.

Until then, I'll share the same advice I offer my children: Ask a few questions before you assume anything nefarious. You'll be comforted by what you learn.

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See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at dtrinko@limanews.com or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.