FORT WAYNE – Despite a $5,000 drop in pay, Police Chief Rusty York was still the highest-paid city employee in 2012.
Mayor Tom Henry took a lot of political heat for his salary during the 2011 election, but he still came in a close second to the $126,632.45 York was paid last year, bringing home $183.84 less than his employee.
York’s high wages are a combination of his base salary, longevity pay and unused vacation, plus personal or holiday hours rolled over from prior years. In 2011, York took home $132,237.
The earnings include all salaries paid, overtime and taxable earnings, such as personal use of a take-home vehicle.
They do not include health benefits.
The city provided the data in response to a public records request by The Journal Gazette.
Seven of the top 10 city salaries were also in the top 10 last year; the three newcomers are police officers who, like York, get paid extra for things such as unused vacation time.
The city’s 356 patrol officers were paid an average of $60,000.
York’s wages are always at or near the top of the list as he is famous for not using much vacation time. He also likely makes less than executives would in the private sector with 350 employees under them.
I’m very appreciative, very grateful, York said. I have the honor of working for a tremendous police agency.
Henry said that someone in the private sector overseeing almost 2,000 employees would make much more than the $124,235.16 he was paid, but there are rewards beyond the paycheck.
You don’t get into politics for the money, Henry said. You have to do it for the love of the community and your dedication to public service.
Michael Northcutt made the top 10 list again, mainly due to working massive amounts of overtime as the chief operator of the water filtration plant. Division heads Al Moll, director of parks, and John Urbahns, director of community development, were also in the top 10.
Deputy Mayor Mark Becker said it is a constant balancing act between keeping wages high enough to attract talented, dedicated workers, and being responsible and prudent with tax dollars. City employees other than elected officials got 1 percent raises in 2011, but no raise in 2012. All city employees, including elected officials, will get 2 percent raises this year.
You’re constantly dealing with budget constraints and political considerations and asking what salaries can we afford to pay? Becker said. A lot has been done to ensure city wages are competitive in the marketplace.
The city does that by using outside firms to examine the wage market because, while taxpayers want salaries to be reasonable, they also want employees who are effective, Becker said.
We pay a lot of attention to (wage studies), so we can understand in terms of when we’re competing for talent what wage levels the city has to offer, he said.
But the city can also offer something hard to put a value on – a chance to make a difference.
There are a lot of talented people here that, in the private sector, could certainly earn a higher wage, Becker said. But they have a passion to be part of an effort to make the community the best it can be.
City Controller Pat Roller was the only woman in the top 10.
We’re always looking for ways we can diversify our leadership base and the entire organization, Becker said. That’s an ongoing objective.
More than 500 people made less than $25,000 in city wages in 2012, with most of those being part-time or seasonal workers, or those who began jobs with the city late in the year. Director of Public Information John Perlich, for example, was paid $22,375 in 2012 but did not start his job until September.