Aside from Miami University, which dominates the highest payroll among public employees in Butler County, which local governments offer the highest salaries?
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The government paying its top earners most was the city of Hamilton, which had 46 employees whose 2015 pay exceeded $100,000, according to its W-2 Forms — far ahead of second-place Fairfield, which had 27 who received more than $100,000, and West Chester Twp., with 26 earning that much.
Hamilton last year was led in earnings by City Manager Joshua Smith, at $221,069; Public Safety Director J. Scott Scrimizzi, at $192,840 ($122,000 is salary and the rest is retirement payout); Director of Project Implementation Michael Perry, at $149,975; Police Chief Craig Bucheit, $133,653; and Public Utilities Director Kevin Maynard, $133,555.
One reason the city with an estimated 2015 population of 62,407 dominated the list was its electric-utility employees — something most local governments across the state don’t have.
Of the 46 Hamilton employees earning $100,000 or more, 17 worked for the city’s utilities. Director of Project Implementation Michael Perry, for example, was an overseer of construction, along with American Municipal Power officials, of Hamilton’s massive, $500-million-plus Meldahl Hydroelectric Plant on the Ohio River. Another 12 employees were on the police force and eight were in the fire service.
Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller said Hamilton’s employees are well worth what they are paid.
“Our city employees are quality employees, highly skilled, and highly trained,” Moeller said. “Our utilities employ engineers, just as Duke and private utilities employ. I know they work long hours.”
Moeller noted that of the utility, police and fire employees above the $100,000 line, “Many of the job positions generated overtime income, which for quite of few put them over the $100,000 figure. Several of those in the top tier are utility related, including positions involving electric generation at Meldahl and Greenup (hydroelectric plants).”
Fairfield had 27 earning above the $100,000 mark, led by longtime former City Manager Art Pizzano ($227,855); current City Manager Mark Wendling ($153,011); and former Development Services Director Timothy Bachman ($142,899). Among the others on the list for the city — with an estimated 2015 population of 42,767 — were 12 employees on the police force and seven firefighters.
Pay using the W-2 forms can be tricky, because sometimes they reflect retirement payouts that are made when an employee stops working for an employer, the way they did with Pizzano, who retired April 30, 2015. His pro-rated salary last year was $79,810, with a retirement payout of $148,045.
Or sometimes they reflect significant overtime payments, as often can happen with police officers or firefighters. Wendling took over after Pizzano left, so his pay as city manager also is pro-rated.
Two of Fairfield’s public safety employees on the $100,000-plus list retired in 2015, while “the other public safety employees on the list, with the exception of Chief (Michael) Dickey ($134,843), are long-tenured employees who worked a significant amount of overtime in 2015,” said Fairfield Human Resources Manager Carol Mayhall.
WEST CHESTER TWP.
The government with the next most employees earning more than $100,000 was West Chester Twp., with 26. Of those, all but two worked in the police force or fire service. The other two employees in the township — with an estimated 2015 population of 63,077 — were Township Administrator Judith Boyko ($151,250) and Director of Finance and Information Technology Ken Keim ($101,784).
Following West Chester Twp. with most employees earning above $100,000 was Butler County government, with 22 such employees, led by Butler County Administrator Charles Young ($149,601); Chief Assistant Prosecutor Roger Gates ($126,025); and Water and Sewer Department Director Robert Leventry ($123,310).
Middletown had 17 such employees, led by Deputy Fire Chief Brent Robert Dominy ($131,639); City Manager Doug Adkins ($129,016); 10 police and fire employees; and Law Director Les Landen ($106,534).
Oxford had nine employees who earned $100,000, led by City Manager Douglas Elliott Jr. ($139,048).
Trenton had one employee earning that much — City Manager John Jones ($124,273)
Monroe also had one — City Manager William Brock ($116,307).
By contrast with West Chester Twp., Liberty Twp. (population 38,613) had just one employee earning more than $100,000 — Township Administrator Kristen Bitonte ($102,963).