Ellsworth’s annual report is hot off the presses and a little lighter this year. Actually make that recently published and shorter. It doesn’t weigh a thing and there were no presses; the city’s report has gone digital. (Find it online at ellsworthmaine.gov.)
While we in the newspaper business appreciate a printed product, the move saved the city printing costs. Past editions of the annual report weren’t exactly flying off the shelves at City Hall. Maybe they should have. A municipality’s annual report makes for great reading.
Ellsworth’s includes letters and reports from various department heads and groups, meeting schedules, a phone directory and tax rate records going back to 1984. There’s data on the number of births, deaths, marriages, emergency calls and business licenses. There are updates on projects completed and those still underway. What you won’t find anymore are the salaries of city employees.
City Manager David Cole said officials decided to trim the report this year and reduce the amount of staff time dedicated to producing it. The 100-page report is 28 pages shorter than last year’s and still chock full of city news despite the trimming. It turns out listing staff salaries in annual reports is rare among larger municipalities and there is no legal requirement to do so.
The salaries are a matter of public record available upon request, but that’s an additional hoop for interested parties to jump through and many taxpayers are very interested. A lot of hard work went into producing the city report. Omitting information of such interest shifts the focus from the content that is there to the content that isn’t. It is better for Ellsworth to include more information than may be strictly necessary. Sometimes more is more.